my weekly book purchases: 3/13/09
this week, i followed most of my rules. one full-priced (the Jack Gilbert), the rest dollar books. the bad thing about my book-buying, is that it comes at the end of my week (either Friday or Saturday), which means that i am usually over or too close to my $100 / week spending limit (yes, this is impossible, and i ALWAYS go over. always.) one of these weeks, i will buy books, and the purchases will not cause me to go over my limit. and i will be impressed and amazed with myself. i bought two poetry books, a book of essays and a novel, which is about right. i like poetry because you don't have to read poem books cover to cover, but can just browse, or read the first few, throw a bookmark in it, then the next few, etc. alright, here are my righteous finds this week...
Gilbert, Jack. Refusing Heaven. New York: Knopf, 2005. [hardcover]
I bought Jack Gilbert's The Great Fires over the summer after removing it off of the shelf, reading a few poems and thinking, "yeah. this guy is great." And, lord, he is. I am not sure how I got that far into my life as a poet without someone forcing me to read him, but I suppose better late than never. Refusing Heaven is his most recent book, though from more than a few years ago. It has a fantastic cover of ruins. Here is an excerpt from "A Kind of Decorum", some last lines I think are particularly wonderful: "'If you meet your mother in the path, / kill her. If the Buddha gets in the way, kill him.' / But my spirit sings like the perishing cicadas / while I sit in the back yard hitting an old pot."
Szymborska, Wislawa. Poems New and Collected 1957-1997. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1998. [hardcover]
I've been waiting for the right Szymborska to come along at the right price. This volume had more of the latter, less of the former. She is Polish and won the Nobel in 1996; this volume was probably published in wake of that. As a rule (so many rules!) I try to only buy books of poetry that at bilingual when they weren't originally written in English. Even if I don't know how to pronounce the other language or can't even guess because it uses a different alphabet, I still feel much safer with any translation when there is the original staring it down across the page. This volume, however, is not bilingual. I just couldn't say no to it for only a dollar (so many rules broken!) It's got some writing in it, hence the price, but it's not too much. I like her subject matter, as in, she seems to take things I have thought of and word them into poems. Here, again, are some last lines that struck me in my flipping. It's from a poem called, "View With a Grain of Sand" and the character she speaks of is this grain of sand, I believe, "Time has passed like a courier with urgent news. / But that's just our simile. / The character is invented, his haste make-believe, / his news inhuman." I always particularly like poets who end their poems well. I try to especially end my poems well, I think it's important.
Camus, Albert. Lyrical & Critical Essays. New York: Knopf, 1968. [hardcover]
This non-dust-jacketed book also had underlinings in it, hence the small price I paid for it. But again, not too much of it. I think the most appealing aspect of the collection is that quite a few of the essays are rather short. Camus has a train of thought I find difficult to follow for pages and pages, so when an essay of his is limited to 10 or less pages, I imagine I can stay on for at least that long. Even the critical essays are on the shorter side. The copious underlinings in this one might be annoying, some of them are in pen, some in pencil, but I do like that about a used book: the evidence of someone else's having made it through, thoroughly breathing in a book, and marking it so. One of the things I like about Camus is that he finds the room to, while philosophizing, make broad sweeping life-statements, and still have his work sound smart as hell. Here is one of the many passages that a previous owner of this book marked: "Accepting the absurdity of everything around us is one step, a necesscary experience: it should not become a dead end. It arouses a revolt that can become fruitful. An analysis of the idea of revolt could help us to discover ideas capable of restoring a relative meaning to existence, although a meaning that would always be in danger," ( from "Three Interviews.")
Bolano, Roberto. The Savage Detectives. New York: Picador, 2007. [paperback]
So this one was a steal, an absolute steal. I have 2666, which sits happily on my desk in front of me, patiently, patiently, for me to have time to dive in. Bolano is, like, the next big thing (from like a year ago, right). Hence, I was super happy to find this dollar copy of this book, just as Trevor stickered it. It was one of the "10 Best Books of the Year" according to the New York Times Book Review, perhaps one of my favorite weekly publications ever... The physical book itself has an imperfection on pages 41-72: they're cut funny at the top, and the print is lowered, but it's not missing any pages. This is my steal of the week, and I am glad I own this one now, though it'll go on the shelf and wait, though, like the rest of everything I wish I had time to read! Ah well. I wish I know how to put the little "~" over top the "N" in his name, for this post. But I don't feel like figuring it out. Hence this note. What's that thing called, anyway...