Saturday, March 01, 2008

BooksFirst - February 2008

Books Bought
Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome To The Monkeyhouse dramatized by Christopher Sergel
Strip Tease by Carl Hiaasen (signed)
Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen (signed)
An Unfortunate Woman by Richard Brautigan
Dreaming of Babylon by Richard Brautigan
Richard Brautigan: The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
Ridley Walker by Russell Hoban
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Housekeeping vs The Dirt by Nick Hornby
Florida Roadkill by Tim Dorsey

Books Read
None. Not one. Zip. Zilch. Nada.


The letdown from National Just Read More Novels Month has been tremendous. I didn’t finish any books this month. I think this is the first time in the history of BooksFirst that I have been shut-out. I’ve stretched the deadline a few times, but even that wouldn’t help me this time. On the glass half-full side, I’m primed to finish some off in March.

On the book buying front, my two month drought ended with a vengeance. We were in Atlanta having brunch in Little Five Points and had some time to kill. In meandering through the parking lot trying to avoid the guy that had set up a paylot stand while we were eating, we stumbled past A Capella Books in a little strip center. I begged permission and we wandered in. This place is one of the last real used and rare bookstores. A genuine treasure.

The store was smaller, but was clean, neat, and well organized, words frequently not associated with used bookstores. He also had copious rare and collectible book display cases. The Kurt Vonnegut novels he had were not true first editions so I passed, but he did have this odd little bound play that was a stage adaptation of Welcome To The Monkey House. Since the last few remnants I need to fill out my Vonnegut collection are both rare and expensive, I find myself buying odd little scraps of ephemera like this. Stuff only a true collector would bother paying for.

There is a short list of authors that I have to have hardcovers, and if I can get signed copies so much the better. Someday I will be forced to triage the book collection and a signature may be the only thing saving a book from a quick fate. I had of course read the two Carl Hiaasen novels long ago, but these were signed copies which make the editions I now have expendable.

Anytime I go into a new bookstore, and especially a used one, I check the poetry section for my favorite poemer Richard Brautigan. I am almost inevitably always disappointed, but A Capella had an entire shelf of his stuff, including several books of his I had never heard of, let alone read. I bought a collectible first edition, a paperback of a relatively recent novel and a collection of posthumous works presumably discovered among the detritus after his tragic suicide. That should be enough to keep me in hippie poetry and prose for a while.

Since I came to Gaiman late, I have a lot of catching up to do and while I read his most recent short story collection back in October of 2006, I’ve never picked up his earlier collection Smoke and Mirrors. My copy of Neverwhere (see last month) had a teaser story from it and I’m trying to read more short stories this year, so it seems like a perfect fit.

The inspiration for this monthly post is Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree and its sequel Housekeeping vs. The Dust which is a collection of articles where he chronicles the books he buys and reads every month and using them as a jumping off point for riffs on pop culture. I’ll never hold a candle to Hornby, but it’s a fantastic concept I can only humbly ape.

So I am now seriously backlogged more than even before. Hopefully I can show some progress for March. Until then, keep reading.


Sue T. said...

I *LOVED* The Polysyllabic Spree and had no idea there was a sequel!!! Hooray!!!

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

Cool Vonnegut find! Plus, it was dramatized by Sergel... whatever that means.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I've been trying to finish Skinny Legs & All for a week. It's driving me mad!

yellojkt said...

Polysyllabic Spree was a series of magazine columns, so as long as Hornby writes the columns, he can publish the books.

This was a play based on Kurt Vonnegut stories the Sergel guy wrote the play, not Kurt.

Tom Robbins is very good, but sometimes it does take a while to get going on a book.