Sunday, November 17, 2013

Incoming Books: One Whole Week Ago

A week ago today, I drove myself up to Boston for the mighty SIMposium convention, a collection of IT executives the likes of which the world has never seen. Along the way, I stopped for lunch just the Connecticut side of the Massachusetts border, in a place called Traveler Food & Books.

Their schtick -- I've been there once before -- is that every eater can pick up to three free books from the shelves in the dining room to take with them when they leave. (There's also a more conventional bookstore downstairs, with actual prices on the merchandise.) The food is average American roadfood -- sandwiches, burgers, etc.; dependable but not all that notable -- and the books are the usual church jumble-sale conglomeration of what people were reading last year or five years ago or before they retired. There was a lot less ex-library stuff this time around than I expected -- it was mostly books in decent shape. And the selection is obviously, completely random -- it's whatever has been donated or found or scrounged recently, or not taken away since it arrived.

So, I ate lunch, found my obligatory three free books, and then went downstairs to buy two more. (One of the latter was a nice-ish edition of The Big Sleep for my older son; he's currently reading In Cold Blood for school and thought it was great, so I figured I might aim him at some fiction that's not a million miles away.)

For myself, I found:

Soft Water, the first novel by Robert Olmstead, as part of what I guess really is my plan to collect the early years of Vintage Contemporaries. I believe it is essentially a rural thriller, though I imagine the Vintage imprimatur classes that all up a lot.

The Case for Books, a recent "whither publishing?" collection of essays by the professor/executive/writer Robert Darnton. This and the book below look to be untouched, so I suspect they may have come out of the stock of a Borders location.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families, Philip Gourevitch's account of the mid-90s genocide in Rwanda. I read Gourevitch's follow-up book, A Cold Case (before this blog, I think, since I can't find any record of it here), and was waiting for him to write another book. (I think he did a book/documentary with Errol Morris about Abu Ghraib, but nothing standalone.) I don't know when/if I will ever actually read this, but it's the kind of book I think I should read, so at least now I have a copy.

And last was a novel called The Ethical Assassin by David Liss, which sounds noir-ish and perhaps Hiaasen-esque in its comic-thriller story of a college student in Florida swept up into the complicated and murderous life of the title character. I don't think I'd heard of ti before, but it looked interesting and was only a couple of bucks.

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