I am not really a clothes person, or a shoe person, or a cosmetics person -- my idea of fancy is MAC lipstick -- or a home furnishings person. I don't collect china figurines, don't wear much in the way of jewelry, drive a decrepit (but paid-for) car, and the fanciest electronics I own are an iPod (a gift), an iMac (a gift), and a decent digital camera (not, technically speaking, mine). I do have a lot of nice kitchenware, but it's all functional and I'd just as soon not replace or add to any of it if I don't have to.
But I understand the passion, the unquenchable raging desire, to acquire such things. I totally know what that moment feels like when you suddenly realize how terribly much you NEED something that you didn't even know existed five minutes ago. I get it. Fortunately, since I don't have all that much liquidity to work with, I don't feel that special way about consumer electronics or pricey footwear -- just books (oh OK, and cats). And more specifically, although I love browsing in a nice bookstore and my Amazon wish list is bloated like a tick, used
I love the thrill of the hunt. I love finding gems among the dross. And I love a bargain -- I am, as my mother's cousin Phyllis would say, a shoppah
. But whereas our family has traditionally spawned shoppahs of the Loehmann's variety, I'm all about the used bookstore, the library sale, the castoff publishers' galleys, the sandwich shop with the $1 paperback shelf, the I-don't-keep-books-so-you-can-have-this friend, and my favorite of all, the street vendor. Luckily, or unluckily -- no, no, it's luckily -- there are a number of these within a five-block radius of my workplace on any given day with halfway decent weather. I rack up the bargains on my lunch hour, piling them on my desk to admire for a week or two and gradually decanting them homeward to read.
Mostly I keep my little triumphs to myself -- I'm pretty sure they would make for a dead boring conversation, and I never really thought of them as something I could or should write about.
However. Recently I've been blogging for Readerville
, which is fun and has seriously stepped up my trolling of book news and RSS feeds. Anything that's interesting enough goes over there, but every once in a while I find something to keep for myself. For instance: Some random surfing the other day brought me to The Wisdom of the Discount Rack
, a very amiable meditation by Phyllis Orrick about the 25-cent rack at the Berkeley Public Library. It's a bit nostalgic, a bit aleatory, generally pleasant. Which is what's good about blogging in the first place -- for every person you bore silly, there's another you'll unexpectedly engage.
So hey, I got bragging rights if I want them. The week before last was a very good shoppah week. For a grand total of $6.00 over three different days, I walked away with:
Because I live in the Bronx, I like noir -- that's enough.
Aside from being blurbed by Hayden Carruth, there is this on the back:
Jim Harrison writes about the austerities of growing up in Michigan during the Depression and World War II, his literary coming-of-age among fellow writers he deeply admired -- including Tom McGuane, Philip Caputo, W.H. Auden, and Allen Ginsberg -- and the cognitive dissonance of "making it" in Hollywood. He gives free rein to his "seven obsessions" -- alcohol, food, stripping, hunting and fishing (and the dogs who have accompanied him in both), religion, the road, and our place in the natural world.
dogs? I'm there.
Dude, it's Wendell Berry
. How can he not be worth $2?
The first man who whistled
thought he had a wren in his mouth.
He went around all day
with his lips puckered,
afraid to swallow.
I guess it might be a little more interesting to blog about these books after I've actually read them. But I haven't yet, so for now the getting of them is the thing.
(Right now I'm reading this behemoth:
Which is about the size of the New York phone book, although oddly lighter, and didn't cost me a thing.)