I did a bit of book-buying this weekend. I spent too much time looking over and eventually passing on a volume of Edmund Wilson's journals. Out of the volumes titled after decades—The Twenties, The Thirties, The Forties, The Fifties—I have three...but I can never remember which ones! This store had all of them, but I didn't want to shell out mazuma for something I already had.
The haul was a bit more obscure than usual.
1. The Proof, by Agota Kristof
2. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4, by Sue Townsend
3. A Nest of Ninnies, by James Schuyler and John Ashbery
4. The Adaptable Man, by Janet Frame
5. Mrs. Caldwell Speaks to Her Son, by Camilo José Cela
6. All Souls, by Javier Marias
7. Notes From a Bottle Found on the Beack at Carmel, by Evan S. Connell
8. Don Bueno, by Zulfikar Ghose
I bought #1 because I admire Kristof's The Notebook, to which this is something of a sequel/continuation; #2 I feel might have been recommended to me (by whom?); #3 I read a while ago and have fond memories of and so why not own it; #4 I have no idea why I bought it—the name rings a bell (I think she died last year—a New Zealand writer of an experimental bent; this book looks totally unread, as if the reader had bought it in a fit of confidence, flipped through a couple pages, and said the hell with it); #5 just had an intriguing title (and a short-chapter structure that reminded me of Machado de Assis's books); #6 because the first page looked good; #7 because I recall Lewis Lapham liked it; and #8 because Ghose was B.S. Johnson's very close friend before he, Ghose, moved to Texas to take an academic position.
The Adrian Mole is really good. This weekend I mostly read Bret Easton Ellis's new novel, Lunar Park. It's wonderfully funny (and increasingly spooky)—Ellis has a seamless comic style here that's very much to my liking.
This exchange, between "Bret" and his young stepdaughter, Sarah, was quite interesting ("Jayne" is Bret's wife):
"I know the alphabet," she stated proudly. "A B C D E F—"
"Honey, Bret has a big headache. I'm gonna take your word on this one."
"—G H I J K L M N—"
"You can identify the sounds letters make. Sweetie, that's really excellent. Jayne?"
"—O P Q R S T U V—"
"Jayne, would you please giver her a sugar-free doughnut or something?" I touched my head to indicate migraine approaching. "Really."
"And I know what a rhombus is!" Sarah shouted gleefully.
"And a hexagon!"
"Okay, but take pity on me just now, munchkin."
"And a trapezoid!"
"Honey, Daddy's grouchy and sleepy and about to throw up so couldn't you keep it down a little?"
Readers of Lee Tandy Schwartzman's Crippled Detectives may find themselves thinking about Chapter Twenty, in which an abecedarian boast morphs into shape-talk.