Sunday, November 06, 2005

Cheerful, nervous, ambiguous, and strong

Today's the last day of the fall book sale at the NYPL's St. Agnes branch. I stopped by yesterday, intent on not buying too many books. Within the first five minutes I had accumulated a ludicrous stack, so I took a long hard look at myself, thought about my overcrowded shelves, and ruthlessly shedded several titles that looked great but that I felt would fall into the "I'll never get around to it category"—Robert Kelly's Cat Scratch Fever, John Banville's Eclipse, Rebecca Brown, Kathy Acker, Springer's Progress (!)...

I finally emerged with:

1. Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey
2. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
3. Seven Types of Ambiguity by William Empson
4. Strong Opinions by Vladimir Nabokov

These were $2 apiece! It's consistently one of the best bang-for-buck book sales in the city—always a lot of worthwhile (and also/additionally quite obscure) titles. Go today if you have a chance, maybe after you finish the marathon in record time.

[Cue strings]

My favorite—my legendary—NYPL haul was back in '98 or so, at the Bloomingdale branch of the library (not located in the legendary department store, but on 100th Street). This wasn't a sale, per se—just the regular cart of books they wanted to get rid of. Here I found Jaroslav Hasek's The Good Soldier Svejk, Jonathan Coe's The Winshaw Legacy (the first of three copies I would come to own, two of which disappeared), John Calvin Batchelor's The Further Adventures of Halley's Comet, et al.

The only haul that could rival it was at the Ridgewood, New Jersey, library, back when my sister used to live there (in Ridgewood, not the library). Titles included Thomas Bernhard's Gargoyles, Nabokov's Transparent Things, Isherwood's terrific Prater Violet, et al.—all in cloth, and some with the remains of the librarian's plot summaries penciled in the back!

[Insert commentary about how Google Print is the antithesis of this sort of delirious book hunting.]

Dizzyheads are invited to share their accounts of prized hauls!


Blogger Andy Selsberg said...

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12:37 PM  
Blogger Andy Selsberg said...

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12:41 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I can't...stop...laughing...long enough to...type....

Speaking of novelty books — did you ever see/read one called THE PROFIT, a parody of Kahlil Gibran's THE PROPHET? It was published by the same folks who did Mad Libs (Price Stern Sloan)...OH WOW. I just googled it, and the entire text is online! Will post it!

9:42 PM  

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