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Friday, February 27, 2009

something potentially sequential

my weekly book purchases


i have imposed a strict regulation on my book buying because i own too many books i haven't read and because i work at a bookstore and don't make enough money to buy both books and food. i choose food.

the regulation has been modified since i first spoke of it, modified and perfected. i had initially limited myself to one book purchase per week. this didn't seem too difficult considering a) i am poor and b) we are only allowed to buy books on fridays and saturdays. though last week i didn't purchase any books at all, this week i found a few. the thing about one-book-a-week is that it allows me to consider my purchases for longer. it allows me to truly decide which book i need at-this-moment. but i decided one-a-week-only-no-exceptions was a bit harsh for a lover of books.

at Strand Books where i work, we have a number of carts lining the store that contain both "dollar books" and "forty-eight cent books", the adjective being the cost of these books. my regulation, therefore, now and until i am either not broke or have read every book i own (should be both, huh,) is that i am only allowed to buy one regular-priced book. i am allowed to buy as many dollar and forty-eight-cent books as i please.

today, under these new rules, i purchased the following books:


Lawrence, D.H. Selected Poems. New York: New Directions Books, 1947 [hardcover]

New Directions has a new classics series all with covers designed by Alvin Lustig. a friend of mine who used to work at Strand collects this series, so i always notice them when they're around. a few weeks ago, i purchased my first of the series, a beautiful copy of Paterson by William Carlos Williams. now, i don't plan on starting my own collection of these books, yet there is something highly attractive about Lustig's coverwork that draws me to them. i purchased the Williams because i've always wanted a copy of Paterson. the same, i suppose, goes for the Lawrence. one of my professors at NYU, Perry Meisel, was always raving on about how Lawrence was never taught anymore and should be. Meisel also insisted that Lawrence's poetry was just as important. i do admit, however, had this book not been the Lustig version, i would not have made the purchase. it's a beautiful little hardbound in decent condition that i hope to pick through here and there every now and then. when books are "selected" or "collected" works of an author, i tend to have that relationship with its pages; a little here and a little there.

Franzen, Jonathan. The Corrections. New York: FSG, 2001 [paperback]

this morning, as we were taking out the dollar carts, i spotted the spine of this one. i parked my cart and doubled back to where it was sitting and picked it up. its spine is all creased and read, and the book generally is in a clearly "used" state, yet ever since reading Franzen's essay, "Mr. Difficult", in the paperback version of How to Be Alone (it was originally published in a September 2002 issue of the New Yorker), i have wanted a copy of this book. knowing i wouldn't immediately get around to reading it and also upon eyeing the entire shelf of the hardcovers we have lined up in our fiction section, i hadn't bothered to pick up a copy of it. yet the dollar copy was too tempting. i look forward to eventually immersing myself in this one, when i have time to read a fiction book not related to my masters thesis or to review for my magazine.

Robert, Frost. The Poetry of Robert Frost. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1964 [hardcover]

this purchase was perhaps the most belabored decision i made today about books. my coworker billy was about to put a dollar sticker on it, when i asked him if i could take a look at it. there is another complete Robert Frost, one with a green-colored cover, which i highly prefer. i do not, however, prefer the price i always find on it: a $20.00 sticker. give, i get a pretty effing amazing discount, however, even with that discount, i still have never purchased that green-colored complete Frost. usually the dustjackets are faded or ripped or both, and i think, when this comes here pristine, i will buy this book. until that impossible day, however, i am stuck with this other copy of the complete Frost. perhaps i have a soft spot in my heart for the poet because we share a birthday, but even though i dislike this book's formatting (the font is way too big, and poems start on the same page as previous poems end -- horrific!) i am still glad to finally have all of this man's work available whenever i would like to peruse. particuarly, it will be satisfying to only have to open to page 377 to read my favorite Frost poem, "Directive" (follow this link; this poem is amazing), rather than searching it out on the internet. had this version of this book not been a dollar, i would not have taken it. but it has a dustjacket, and outside of a few stains on the spine, is quite a steal for the price i paid.

McInerney, Jay. Bright Lights, Big City. New York: Vintage Comtemporaries, 1984. [paperback]

i found this book last today, searching through the recently-removed-for-dollaring cart near the back fiction desk. i had done a Square One search for it earlier and come up blank. this book comes recommended by a new friend and excellent writer, James Yeh, and i am glad to add it to my bookcase of "fiction books-- not read". it's only 182 pages long, so perhaps i will at least get to is sooner than i get to The Corrections (566 pages.) a well-placed recommendation goes a long way with me. i expect others to take my own into consideration, so i am sure to take others' seriously as well. thanks, James. again, this book is considerably used, has a few bent and mostly yellowing pages, but all the words are there. i surely, for a dollar, could not say no to this one.













p.s. i went to great pains to find the exact covers of the books i bought. i think this is because on my facebook books app., sometimes the wrong cover will be the one i have to pick in order to "begin" reading the book, and this annoys me. i hope this effort is appreciated by more than just myself.

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