Friday, September 21, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 16-09-2018)


Though I had another interesting five-book haul last Sunday at Abids I wasn’t happy. The reason is that since the past few months I have been bringing in hauls of five-six books on an average and now there are far too many books at home. I don’t think I will be getting enough time to read all the books I’ve bought till now and that is making me a bit depressed because there is nothing I like more than to read. The problem is that when I see books I want to buy those I like and at Abids I find many books I like and end up buying them. Last Sunday again I found five interesting titles.
A long time ago it was quite by chance that I had picked up a Jerzy Kosinski title at Abids unaware of his books. I just picked up ‘Passing By’ on a hunch and later after reading that collection of amazing and bold essays I wanted to read more books by Jerzy Kosinski. Sometime later I found a copy of another title of his- ‘Pinball.’ Last Sunday ‘Passion Play’ by Jerzy Kosinski was the first title I found at Abids. The seller was a greedy fellow who usually asks for outrageous prices but last Sunday I managed to get the book for just thirty rupees.
The second find was an interesting one. I spotted a copy of ‘Let Them Call It Jazz’ by Jean Rhys. It wasn’t even a regular book but something half the size of a book. It turned out to be a collection of three short stories of Jean Rhys: Let Them Call It Jazz; Outside the Machine; and The Insect World. I got this cute book for thirty rupees.
After a long time I came across an Ernest Hemingway title that I don’t have. I saw a copy of ‘Islands in the Stream’ by Ernest Hemingway. It was a fat, thick hardcover copy with a jacket that was torn in places and stuck together with tape. It had the appearance of an old, original copy and that excited me. I looked inside and saw that the publisher was Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. I had no idea if it was a first edition but it was published in 1970. Whatever, I bought it and since the seller was someone who was one of my favourite sellers at Abids I got this 466-page book for fifty rupees only.


A couple of minutes later with another seller I saw another book that looked really old looking at the cover. It was a copy of ‘The Sword and the Sickle’ by Mulk Raj Anand. I was excited about this copy. There was ‘KUTUB’ on the cover and when I looked inside I read that it was published by Kutub Publishers Limited, Bombay in 1955. It was the Indian edition and the original edition was published in 1942 elsewhere. By its appearance I think it is an old copy worth retaining so I bought it for forty rupees.

A long time ago I managed to get hold of a new copy of ‘Travel Writing’ by Don George when I still could not stop dreaming about travelling and writing about it. In it I had come across a list of ‘Travel Literature Classics’ made of twenty titles. Of those twenty titles I managed to find six: ‘Arabia Through the Looking Glass’ by Jonathan Raban; ‘Arabian Sands’ by Wilfred Thesiger; ‘In Patagonia’ by Bruce Chatwin; ‘A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush’ by Eric Newby, ‘Venice’ by Jan Morris, and ‘Southern Gates of Arabia’ by Freya Stark. I am constantly on the lookout for the remaining titles though it seems highly unlikely that I would find any title by Patrick Leigh-Fermor whose ‘A Time of Gifts’ is No. 17 on this list. At the bottom of this list, No. 20, is ‘The Worst Journey in the World’ by Apsley Cherry-Garrard. This is the same title I picked up last Sunday at Abids.
Though I had spotted it a few months ago I did not buy it. At that time I wasn’t aware it was in that list of Travel Literature Classics. However, something about that title was nagging me and I looked in my copy of TLC and realized I had made a horrible mistake not buying it. When I began to look for it frantically next Sunday I couldn’t find it and the seller also had no idea about it. I couldn’t see it for the next few Sundays until it turned up again last Sunday. It did not take me more than half a minute to buy it. The icing on the cake is that I got the book for half the price the seller quoted once he realized I was eager to buy it. When I told him I wouldn’t pay more than seventy rupees and began to walk away he accepted my offer. I got the book just like that. But reading this massive tome is going to take longer than it took to buy it. It is nearly six hundred pages of dense print.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 2-9-18)

I do not seem to be falling short of luck at the Sunday book bazaar in Abids because last Sunday too I ended up with a good haul of six interesting titles.
Only the other Sunday I had picked up a copy of … by Amitabha Bagchi whose latest book- ‘Half the Night is Gone’ is being talked about as one of the finest novels in recent times. I had seen good enough copies of ‘Above Average’ by Amitabha Bagchi at Abids in the past but hadn’t bought it for some reason. But after reading about ‘Half the Night is Gone’ I have decided to read Bagchi’s books and begin from the first book. I have to find ‘The Householder’ now. I got ‘Above Average’ for only fifty rupees.
The next find was a chance find that I picked up after I saw the cover. It was a copy of ‘Headcount’ by Ingrid Noll who, it was on the cover, was considered as ‘Germany’s Queen of Crime’ by Observer. After such high praise I couldn’t resist buying it since I love to read crime fiction and want to find new writers I am not aware of. This title was in another lot of books selling for twenty rupees.
The Sunday before last I had seen a book in tattered condition without the covers at the front and at the back and the spine exposed. However, the title appeared interesting ‘Principles of Literary Critcism’ by I.A. Richards. The seller had asked for a hundred and fifty rupees that put me off. I wasn’t very interested in it because it seemed something very academic. Last Sunday I saw the book again and asked for the price. The seller was the same kid as before but this time he asked for only forty rupees. I decided to take though I am not sure I would find the time and the patience to go through it.
Sometimes you find treasure in the most unexpected places. There’s a pile of uninteresting books in another place in a lane at Abids that sell for twenty rupees. In the past I have found a couple of good titles when I looked carefully. Last Sunday I needn’t look so carefully because one title lying on top of the pile that caught my eye. It was a copy of ‘Ants’ by Gopinath Mohanty, a small and slender book. ‘Ants and Other Stories’ is a collection of nine short stories: Ants; The Somersault; Destiny; Two Heroes; Road Closed; Drowning; House; The Solution; Identity ranslated from the Odia by Sitakant Mahapatra. I looked inside and saw that the book was published in 1979 by Arani International, Kolkata and distributed by Rupa. Arani was a new name I haven’t heard before but the cover was something worth looking at- It was another collectible title that I got for just twenty bucks.
The last title I found at Abids was a copy of ‘The Brass Cupcake’ by John D. MacDonald that I later read online was his first novel. It was another book from the Books n More library that are still littering the pavements in their dozens. This book was in a pile of books selling for twenty rupees along with other titles.
The last find was not in Abids but in Chikkadpally. There was a pile of books stacked one on top of another that I decided to check out. Then I found a nice copy of ‘Voices in the City’ by Anita Desai with a beautiful original cover. It was an Orient Paperbacks edition published by Hind Pocket Books that looked like a collectible item. I got it for only thirty rupees.

Friday, September 07, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 2-9-2018)


Had I known it beforehand that I would be returning home with a haul of six books from Abids maybe I would have hesitated a bit before stepping out in the morning last Sunday. With all my bookshelves filled to overflowing, all available nooks and crannies stuffed with books there isn’t much space for more books yet I keep buying books every week and this is what fills me with dread. However the happiness at finding good titles is more than the dread I feel at thought of finding space to keep them at home.
The first find in the haul was a book I went for because I was drawn to the cover. It was an unusual cover with a black and white photograph of a Japanese family with two kids and their mother (?). I haven’t read many titles by Japanese writers other than those by Haruki Murakami. ‘The Broken Commandment’ by Shimazaki Toson was the first book in the haul and is an English translation of the original novel in Japanese- HAKAI. This is published by the University of Tokyo Press and is accepted in the Japanese Series of the Translations Collections of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). I was surprised to read in the introduction by the translator, Kenneth Strong, that in Japan there was a kind of caste system just like our own wretched one, and there’s a section of people, 'eta', considered ‘untouchable’ in the Japanese society. 'The Broken Commandment' is the story of one person from that section.
Though I already have copies of some titles I keep buying if I come across more copies because I love reading those writers and want to let others too read them. Dave Barry is one writer I’ll always be grateful for making me laugh because I don’t think I laugh much. When I spotted a beautiful copy of ‘Dave Barry Talks Back’ in a pile of books marked ‘Rs 20’ I picked it up. Similarly, when I saw a copy of ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ by John Berendt I bought it though I haven’t yet read the copy I had picked up long back. I got this book for thirty rupees.
The next find was a crime fiction title- ‘The Moody Man’ by John Milne. Though I haven’t read about this writer before, I picked it up because it was a Penguin title. I read almost anything that is published by Penguin. Period. I got this book for just thirty rupees and I hope it turns out to be an enjoyable read.
Sometime back I had picked up a ‘Cal’ by Bernard MacLavery on a hunch and after reading it was so impressed by the writer that I wanted to read all his books. Luckily I found a copy of ‘Lamb’ sometime last year but haven’t read it yet. Last Sunday I came across a beautiful copy ‘The Anatomy School’ by Bernard MacLaverty that turned out to be a British Library discard. Whatever, I am glad I found this title and got it for fifty rupees only.
‘The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta’ by Mario Vargas Llosa was the last find that I picked up in another heap of books selling for twenty rupees. This was another book from the ‘Books N More’ collection that has now turned up at Abids. I wonder why the library folded up and was forced to sell/give away its books.

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 26-08-2018)


The Sunday before last Sunday at Abids I had spotted a copy of ‘Pather Panchali’ on the pavements with one of the sellers. I picked it up to take a look and noticed that the copy was published by Allied Publishers and was actually in quite a good condition except that the cover page had moisture stains. Somehow I did not buy it which was quite a dumb thing to do that I realized after I got home.

Last Sunday as soon as I parked my two wheeler at Abids I decided that the first thing I’d do would be to pick up the copy of ‘Pather Panchali’. I just hoped nobody had shown interest in the book and taken it. When I reached the spot where I had seen the book I was in for a terrible shock. Not only could I spot the book I couldn’t spot the seller also. The seller himself was missing! It seems he had decided not to set up shop last Sunday.
With that disappointment in my heart I browsed listlessly along with Danny hoping to find something that would help me overcome it. I saw a title by a writer I have never come across before. I decided to buy it after I read on the cover that it had been made into a movie starring Michael Caine. It was ‘Alfie’ by Naughton that I got for twenty rupees only. This was the only title I bought last Sunday.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 19-08-2019)


In the collection of books that I have painstakingly managed to build over the years there are a few titles I have had multiple copies of. Three copies of ‘Ex-libris’ by Anne Fadiman, three copies of ‘All About H.Hatterr’ by GV Desani, three copies of ’84, Charing Cross Road’ by Helene Hanff, more than four copies of ‘The Elements of Style’ by Strunk & White, several copies of many Dave Barry titles and also ‘Get Shorty’ by Elmore Leonard, nearly half a dozen copies of ‘The Summing Up’ by Somerset Maugham, and more than a dozen copies of ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King which is a title I keep finding at Abids quite regularly.
Last Sunday too I spotted a beautiful, almost brand new copy of ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King and got it for sixty rupees. I don’t understand why I can never leave a copy of this behind without buying it. Since it was the first book I found at Abids I was thrilled that the day was turning out to be another Sunday that would have me taking home some really good finds in the haul.
I haven’t read anything by Amitabha Bagchi and after reading wonderful reviews praising his ‘Half the Night is Gone by almost all the reviewers I have been wondering whether to buy it online or wait until I find it somewhere. But before I could do any of this I spotted a nice hardcover copy of ‘This Place’ by Amitabha Bagchi. I thought maybe reading ‘This Place’ before reading ‘Half the Night is Gone’ would be a better thing to do and so added this title to the haul along with a copy of ‘Cat and Mouse’ by Gunter Grass, another writer I haven’t read.
The fourth and last title I found at Abids was a beautiful copy of ‘The Best of Samaithu Par’ by S. Meenakshi Ammal. I had been looking for this title since for quite some time but had not come across it even once. But I got lucky last Sunday and found a nice copy that I’ll cook through someday.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 12-08-2018)


The haul of books I make every Sunday at Abids is usually an interesting lot with titles I cannot find anywhere and also, sometimes, includes a surprise find. Last Sunday however I was in for a double surprise. It had rained quite heavily the previous day and the forecast was that it would continue to rain on Sunday too. Luckily it did not rain on Sunday though the sky was overcast. I came home with six books but five titles.
The first book I found at Abids was a really old one, the type face on the cover giving the impression that the book was printed sometime around the fifties. On the cover was this title-‘The Street of Ink’ by K. Iswara Dutt. I was intrigued by the title and when I looked inside it turned out to be some sort of memoir by a journalist. I flipped through a few pages and saw that there was something about the time spent by the author in Hyderabad as PRO of Hyderabad and was also a journalist who rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty of the time. I became excited when I saw that it was published in Masulipatnam in 1956 by Triveni Publishers and printed at Huxley Press in Madras. I got this interesting title for fifty rupees.
Next to -‘The Street of Ink’ by K. Iswara Dutt was a nice copy of ‘Grifter’s Game’ by Lawrence Block that I picked up for thirty rupees. After finding these two books I sat in the Irani cafĂ© chatting with my friend over a cup of chai.
Since a couple of weeks I’ve been seeing dozens of books from ‘Books n More’ library of Marredpally in Hyderabad that seems to have folded up. When I spotted a copy of the 1972 edition of ‘The Foreigner’ by Arun Joshi I was thrilled that I had found a second copy of the same edition. Sometime back I had found the same edition but it wasn’t in a good condition with the cover coming apart. But this copy was in a plastic jacket and seemed to be from the library. I got it for fifty rupees. Even before I could come out of the excitement of finding this lovely copy I spotted another copy of the same title but it was a later edition 1993 that I see often. But I cannot resist anything by Arun Joshi so I picked up this copy too making it the tenth or twelfth copy that I possess.
In another heap of the same library’s books that were with another seller who was selling them for twenty rupees each I saw a copy of ‘Some Inner Fury’ by Kamala Markandaya. This too seemed an original edition published in 1956 in the United States of America. It was in a fair condition encased in a plastic jacket. I bought it along with a copy of ‘The Happy Highwayman’ by Leslie Charteris from the same heap of books from ‘Books n More’ library. It was published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1963. I had heard about ‘The Saint’ but I don’t know much about it so this title gives me the opportunity to know more.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 05-08-2018)


It was another ‘solo’ Sunday for me at Abids last Sunday when I had no friends by my side while foraging through the piles of books on the pavements. Being alone meant I could take my own time browsing and trying to focus on spotting titles that looked good. In the couple of hours I was at Abids I ended up with a nice haul of five interesting titles.
The first title I found was one I had read about a long time ago. It was a copy of ‘And Some Take a Lover’ by Dina Mehta that I spotted lying on the pavement among other titles. It is a Rupa title published in 1992. The title comes from a poem ‘Don Juan’ Canto II by Lord Byron. The book runs into more than three hundred pages and I got it for just fifty rupees.
In my notebook I had jotted down a few titles of poetry by Denis Johnson after I read about him somewhere. I forgot to write down where I had come across Denis Johnson’s name but when I saw it on the cover of a book I saw with a seller at Abids I picked it up. It was a nice copy of ‘Already Dead’ by Denis Johnson, and it was a fiction title. I hesitated a bit before buying it but ultimately bought it for thirty rupees.
A few minutes later at another seller I saw a copy of ‘Indian Recipes’ by Premila Lal. I think I have a book by Premila Lal that I had picked up recently but the cookbook I saw looked attractive so I couldn’t resist buying it. I got it for eighty rupees.
The next find was by someone I had never heard before but turned out to a New Zealander who lived in India and was a newspaper correspondent. When I saw the cover of ‘A Frog in My Soup’ by Harry Miller I was intrigued by the picture of an Indian boy with three Slender Lori sitting on his head. Even more interesting was an inscription by someone called Suchi to Akhilee on one of the front pages. The book did not come cheap though. I almost decided not to buy it but the seller was ready to give it to me at the rate I quoted, a fourth of what he had asked.
The last find was a book I had spotted sometime two Sundays ago but hadn’t bought because I have already a copy of it and have also read the book. It was a good copy of ‘Paro’ by Namita Gokhale and I decided to buy it because I had enjoyed reading it and thought there would be someone I could give it to. I got the book for just thirty rupees.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Eleven Years of the Blog and The Sunday Haul (on 29-07-2018)


I am dimly aware of why I keep buying books week after week but I am finding it a bit difficult to understand why I am keeping this blog going. I don’t really relish the idea of writing the posts here as regularly as I am doing so it is not that I love to write and I also am not looking to be famous or popular with this blog. But I’ve managed to keep this blog going for eleven long years somehow. I have no idea of how long the blog will last but right now I am thinking of a short break of a couple of weeks.
Books published in the fifties and sixties hold a special attraction for me, more so if it is a crime fiction title. More than what it inside it is the cover that gets me. Last Sunday at Abids I came across a slim book in a heap with an attractive cover. I picked it up and the title on the cover was ‘Murder Me for Nickels’ by Peter Rabe. It was published in May, 1960 by Gold Medal Books in USA. I got it for just twenty rupees. This was the only title in last Sunday’s haul.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 24-07-18)

I came across many crime writers (like Jake Arnott, Ross Thomas, Peter Blauner ) at Abids by pure accident. I liken such finds to finding a gem in the dust. Last Sunday I found one such gem at Abids but I did not know it then that it was a gem. When I saw ‘No Beast So Fierce’ by Edward Bunker I had a hunch that it could be a good book and even the blurb on the cover about it being made into a film starring Dustin Hoffman confirmed my hunch. So I picked it up for a mere thirty rupees. Later when I Googled the title I was intrigued by Edward Bunker’s background. Edward Bunker took to crime at a very young age, went to jail, wrote a book, became famous and wrote scripts, acted and produced movies. This I plan to read right after finishing Ross Thomas’ ‘Out on the Rim’ that I am engrossed in at the moment.
I found yet another book on writing-‘The Modes of Modern Writing’ by David Lodge. It is an academic tome that discusses things I’ve never heard before like ‘metonymy’ and has sentences like this-‘the poetic function projects the principle of equivalence from the axis of selection into the axis of combination’- that left me reeling. Nevertheless I bought it- for a hundred rupees. It looks impressive to have titles like this in one’s bookshelf.
There’s this pile of Rs 30 books that the Best Books people have in the lane beside Dayal’s that is beginning to throw up many good titles. The previous Sunday I had picked up ‘Mirror Maker’ by Primo Levi and ‘Mildred Pierce’ by James M. Cain from this same pile. Last Sunday I found another wonderful title in that pile. As soon as I spotted the copy of ‘The Emigrants’ by W.G. Sebald I jumped on it. Anything I write about this book would seem insignificant so I will just mention that it seems to be fictional accounts of four people-Dr. Henry Selwyn, Paul Bereyter, Ambros Adelwarth, Max Ferber.

This was one Sunday when all my Abids friends- Uma, Daniel and Jai seemed to come together. Though Jai did not spend much time with us, we three talked for a long time about our usual topics over chai. It just seemed like one of those old days of the past when all was well with the world.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 15-7-2018)

Though the weather forecast said it would rain heavily on Sunday it didn’t! But the sky was overcast and looked like it would rain any moment but mercifully while we were out at Abids not a drop fell from the sky. It wasn’t rain that I was worried if the copy of ‘A Whole Life’ by Robert Seethaller that I had seen the previous Sunday and not bought was there or not. But before I could reach that seller I spotted another interesting title with another seller right in the lane where I park my two-wheeler. It was a copy of ‘Out on the Rim’ by Ross Thomas that I saw in a pile of ‘Rs 20 only’ books. I would have picked up anything by Ross Thomas and this copy had a blurb by Elmore Leonard on the back cover saying: ‘ A stunning array of characters working a plot that twists and slithers, never stops.’ I read the first chapter later after I got home and now I am trying to make time to read this book as soon as I can.
'Out on the Rim' was the first title I picked up at Abids last Sunday before finding ‘A Whole Life’ by Robert Seethaller that I managed to buy at the price I wanted to pay- hundred rupees. I felt glad that no one had picked it up in the meanwhile and I got to bought it. As it says on the cover it had been long listed for the Man Booker and surprisingly it was less than a hundred and fifty pages long.
The next find was ‘Mildred Pierce’ by James M. Cain. I already have a copy of this title that I had bought a couple of years ago. But this was a very good copy almost new and coming cheap at thirty rupees only. In fact this was one of the three books I picked up from a heap selling for thirty rupees only.
The second book was ‘The Mirror Maker’ by Primo Levi. It is a collection of Stories and Essays translated from the Italian by Raymond Rosenthal. The stories in it are: The Interview; They Were Made to Be Together; The Great Mutation; The Two Flags; Five Intimate Interviews; The Mirror Maker; Through the Walls; The Ant’s Wedding; Force Majeure; A Mystery in the Lager; Time Checkmated; The Tommy-gun Under the Bed
The Essays in it are: A Valley; The Commander of Auschwitz; The Moon and Man; Sic!; Our Dreams; The Struggle for Life; Spears Become Shields; Translating Kafka; Rhyming on the Counterattack; Dear Horace; Bacteria Roulette; Among the Peaks of Manhattan; The Wine of the Borgias; Reproducing Miracles; The Man Who Flies; About Gossip; Jack London’s Buck; Adam’s Clay; The Spider’s Secret; The Dispute among German Historians; Defiance in the Ghetto; Hatching the Cobra.