Saturday, June 29, 2013
The following came home with me from a weekend away with The Wife, to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We went off to New Hope, where we used to vacation pre-kids, and I found my way into four decent used bookstores (two each in Lambertville, NJ and Doylestown, PA, each pair immediately adjacent, too), and brought home the following:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon -- a big novel about comics and fantasy and history and so forth; it won the Pulitzer and got glowing reviews and I had a hardcover that I hadn't managed to read before the Flood. (And I've read and enjoyed several Chabon books -- see my reviews of The Yiddish Policemen's Union, The Final Solution, and Manhood for Amateurs, for examples.) So maybe this trade paperback will be more likely to make it in front of my eyeballs.
Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney -- I don't read as much poetry as I'd like -- I'm in the middle of a long-stalled attempt on all of Browning, and have a shelf of Larkin and Pound and Bishop and Auden and others I want to get to as well -- but I keep buying it, and someday I will have read as much poetry as I wish I already had.
An Everyman's Library omnibus of three "Ripley" novels by Patricia Highsmith -- Talented, Under Ground, and Game. I either had this exact book or some other Ripley omnibus pre-deluge, but never got to it.
The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes -- I read this history of the early years of Australia a decade or more ago, and enjoyed it then. And it was 95 cents in one of those stores, so I grabbed it again.
Home Town by Tracy Kidder -- I can't remember if the book clubs I worked for at the time (1999, just before the merger) won this or lost it, but it was a topic of discussion at editorial meetings for a while, and it sounded interesting. Kidder's the author of a number of nonfiction books -- Soul of a New Machine is probably the most iconic -- and this was his look at the small Massachusetts town where he lives. (Well, lives part of the time -- like all moderately famous writers, his bio feels the need to cite two places of residence.)
Country Matters by Michael Korda -- one publishing executive buys a summer home near Poughkeepsie, and the usual rural shenanigans ensue. I read a couple of Korda books on publishing and bestsellers, which weren't nearly as windy and full of his own ego as I'd heard Korda was, so I'm willing to try again. (That was a long time ago, though -- this book is from 2001, and I think it's later than anything I read.) I do wonder if he means the Shakespearean dirty pun in the title.
The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch -- Lynch is a poet, but he's also funeral director of a family company in Michigan, and has been for his entire adult life. This little book of meditations on death and its attendants is exactly the kind of unexpected discovery that used-book stores are made for.
Story of My Life by Jay McInerney -- Among the many things I'm under-read in is the serious non-genre novelists of my own generation; I started out with McInerney with Bright Lights, but never read him again. I also have vague thoughts of collecting all of the early Vintage Contemporaries, since everyone needs a silly book-collecting plan.
River Dogs by Robert Olmstead -- Speaking of early VCs, here's another one. I bet it was on a recommended reading list when I was at Vassar -- the writing-oriented profs were always trying to get us English major to read contemporary short-story writers -- but I got it now purely as part of that possible VC plan.
And then we get into Calvin Trillin -- Uncivil Liberties, Travels with Alice, Deadline Poet, and Too Soon To Tell. Uncivil and Too Soon are collections of his column -- which I never read when it ran, though I've loved all of the collections. Alice is a lovely travel/family book, which I re-read and reviewed a few years back. And Deadline Poet collects the beginning of the least significant of his careers -- he's since put out four or so collections of usually politically-themed doggerel -- but this one, as I recall, was the best of that bunch. I lost every single Trillin book I had in the flood, and he's a writer I do expect to re-read now and then -- so I have to rebuild.