Friday, December 19, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Most of the books I have found in the past few months have been short story collections by some big names. I have found ‘Dying Alone and Other Stories’ by Krishna Baldev Vaid sometime in September, then ‘My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead’ edited by Jeffrey Euginides, ‘The Awakening and Other Stories’ by Kate Chopin in October, ‘The Progress of Love’ by Alice Munro, and ‘Secret Lives’ by Ngugi Wa Thiong’O, ‘Looking for Jake and Other Stories’ by China Mieville last month and ‘Collected Stories- Vol I’ by Shashi Deshpande earlier this month. It looks like a year of short story collections for me because I found two more short story titles last Sunday at Abids.
Flannery O Connor is one writer whose short story collections I had my eyes peeled open for since a long time. Then last Sunday among books scattered on the pavement I chanced upon ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’ by Flannery O Connor that I got for just twenty rupees. The seller was one who has three branches in the city and I was surprised he did not know the value of this title. Anyway, I was glad to have found a Flannery O Connor title at last. It has nine stories:

Everything That Rises Must Converge
A View of the Woods
The Enduring Chill
The Comforts of Home
The Lame Shall Enter First
Parker’s Back
Judgement Day.

Next on my ‘to find’ list is a Lydia Davis title.

Afterwards, on the way home I stopped as usual at Chikkadpally. I found ‘Best American Short Stories-2007’ (ed-Stephen King) that I got for hundred rupees. It is worth every one of the hundred rupees I have paid for it because it has twenty stories, some of them by writers I know and many by those I do not know. These are the stories in it:

‘Pa’s Darling’ by Louis Auchincloss
‘Toga Party’ by John Barth
‘Solid Wood’ by Ann Beattie
‘Balto’ by TC Boyle
‘Riding the Doghouse’ by Randy Devita
‘My Brother Eli’ by Joseph Epstein
‘Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You?’ by William Gay
'Eleanor’s Music’ by Mary Gordon
‘L.DeBard and Aliette: A Love Story’ by Laurn Groff
‘Wake’ by Beverly Jensen
‘Wait’ by Roy Kesey
‘Findings & Impressions’ by Stellar Kim
‘Allegiance’ by Aryn Kyle
‘The Boy in Zaquitos’ by Bruce McAllister
‘Dimension’ by Alice Munro
‘The Bris’ by Eileen Pllack
‘St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves’ by Karen Russell
‘Horseman’ by Richard Russo
‘Sans Farine’ by Jim Shepard
‘Do Something’ by Kate Walbert
I also found Ian Fleming’s ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ that I picked on a whim. It was for just thirty rupees so I bought it right away after I looked at the cover that was too interesting to ignore.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Sunday Haul

It was a two book haul for me last Sunday at Abids. I already have two copies of Arun Joshi’s ‘The Strange Case of Billy Biswas’ at home. But I couldn’t resist buying another nice copy that I saw with the seller near the GPO at Abids. I got it for fifty rupees and except for a tear on the cover on the left corner at the top the book was in good condition. That was the only book I found at Abids last Sunday but at a seller at RTC X Roads I found another book.
I had been eyeing Shashi Deshpande’s ‘Collected Short Stories, Volume-I’ at this particular seller since the past two weeks. I hesitated to buy it because I thought the seller would ask for nothing less than a hundred bucks for this book. I did not want to buy it at that price though I did not ask him and he did not tell me the price. Last Sunday, I was surprised when he told me he would give the book to me for fifty rupees. I picked it up without a second thought thereby adding one more title to my ever growing collection of short stories.

This volume has twenty four stories: The Legacy, The First Lady, Anatomy of a Murder, Can You Hear Silence?, A Liberated Silence, Why a Robin?, An Antidote to Boredom, It Was the Nightingale, The Stone Women, Mirrors, The Inner Rooms, A Wall is Safer, The Duel, The Awakening, Independence Day, The Day Bapu Died, The Shadow, The Homecoming, The Boy, Waste Lands, My Beloved Charioteer, The Valley in Shadow, The Intrusion, and The Eternal Theme

Quite surprisingly, there is no news about the Hyderabad Book Fair in the papers. One seller I met at Abids told me that it was beginning from the 17th of December in the NTR Stadium grounds. But I wanted some official confirmation. Yesterday while going in a cab near Lakdi ka pul I saw a poster stuck on the rear of an autorickshaw. I had just enough time to read that it was beginning from next Wednesday. Whatever, I am eagerly waiting for the book fair to begin and counting the days.

Friday, December 05, 2014

The Sunday Haul

It is not usual to find author signed copies of books at Abids. But I am also not particular about them and don’t really go looking for such books. It might be why I did not notice that I had bought an author signed title until I got home and checked out the book leisurely. I had found China Mieville’s ‘Looking for Jake and Other Stories’ in a heap of books selling for twenty rupees and decided to buy it. Only a couple of weeks earlier I had found his ‘Perdido Street Station’ that I had read somewhere was very good. Anyway, while leafing through the book at home I saw a signature scrawled on one of the title pages and it appeared like to that of China Mieville. I don’t know if such a copy is valuable but I was glad I found it.

‘Looking for Jake and Other Stories’ has the following fourteen stories: Looking for Jake, Foundation, Reports of Certain Events in London, Familiar, Entry Taken from a Medical Encyclopedia, Details, Go Between, Different Skies, An End to Hunger, ‘Tis the Season, Jack, and The Ball Room (co-written with Emma Birchman & Max Schaefer) and On the Way to the Front (illustrated by Liam Sharp). I am glad I got it cheap.

The second title I found on Sunday at Abids was by a writer I had recently come across. Sometime this year I had found ‘Devil on the Cross’ by Ngugi Wa Thiongo’o which I had read somewhere was a great book and that the author was on the shortlist for the Nobel. On Sunday I found a collection of his short stories titled ‘Secret Lives’ which had three parts and contained thirteen stories.

Part-I ( Of Mothers and Children)
Mugumo, And the Rain Came Down! Gone With the Drought

Part-II ( Fighters and Martyrs)
The Village Priest, The Black Bird, The Martyr, The Return, A Meeting in the Dark, Goodbye Africa

Part-III ( Secret Lives)
Minutes of Glory, Wedding at the Cross, A Mercedes Funeral, the Mubenzi Tribesman

But the dumbest thing I did on Sunday was not picking up the collection of poems by Jayanta Mahapatra that was on one of the shelves of a seller who refused to give it at the price I asked. It was really dumb not picking it up eagerly since he had asked for a reasonable price. I hope next Sunday it is there.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Those who know me and my habit of going to Abids every Sunday looking for books sometimes ask me to search for books they are unable to find elsewhere. They either want the book at a cheaper rate or it isn’t available so easily in the normal bookstores. Then there are some people I pick up books for at Abids without being told to. One such person is my kid who devours comics especially those of X-Men, Avengers, Spiderman, Superman and so on, of which he has an impressive collection. Needless to say I’ve picked up most of them when he isn’t able to come along with me. These comics are action oriented and so far I haven’t been able to find titles of Asterix, and also Calvin & Hobbes cheap at Abids.
Last Sunday however I found a Calvin & Hobbes title that was in good condition. Though 300/- was penciled in a corner on the inside cover I managed to bargain and got it for fifty rupees only. Even I was amazed when the seller agreed to the price I quoted.
The next find was at Abds and it was an old favorite- The Summing Up by Somerset Maugham. I found an edition different from all the ones I had picked up so far. I might have found and bought at least a dozen copies of this priceless title t hat I have given to friends who evinced interest in writing. I got this title for fifty rupees.
Another find was Truman Capote’s ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys and…’ that I saw immediately after I found The Summing Up. It was in good condition and I found that it was a 50th Anniversary Edition so I picked it up for thirty rupees.
At another seller I found a Robert B. Parker title that wasn’t one in the Spenser series. It was a Western called ‘Appaloosa’ which seemed to have been made into a movie also. The cover was impressive and I thought I may have to shell out nothing less than a hundred rupees for it. But I was surprised when the seller asked for thirty rupees only that I gladly paid him.
Only last week or so I had read about the venerable Shiv K Kumar, now into his nineties and ready to release another couple of books. At Abids I came across his ‘Trapfalls in the Sky’, a hardcover first edition that I got for the ridiculous price of fifteen rupees. It was more than forty poems and one of them was ‘An Indian Mother’s Advice to her Daughter Before Marriage’ that I remember reading somewhere long, long back.

Somebody had told me that the Hyderabad Book Fair was likely to begin from the seventeenth of December and would be held for ten days. There’s a couple of more weeks to go before the Book Fair begins and I am already feeling all excited about going there and plundering the second hand book stalls.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Full Stomach, Half Brain and the Jubilee Hills Crowd, Two Haul

Full Stomach, Half Brain

One can hardly expect the Jubilee Hills/Banjara Hills folks/crowd to get misty eyed about something as piffling as the closing of a bookstore when what makes them happy is the new eateries opening around them almost all the time. When they don’t have enough time to visit these numerous eateries how can one expect them to know that a major bookstore in their locality has shut down. If at all they show any interest in such an event it will be only to find out if a new eatery is coming up in place of the closed bookstore. On the other hand tell them a popular eatery has shut down then they will go into deep mourning like they’ve been struck by some great personal tragedy.

Well, in case the JH/BH crowd doesn’t know, the Landmark bookstore located on Road No. in Banjara Hills has shut down. I was there in Banjara Hill sometime last week and happened to notice this catastrophe. LM was a fairly large store to begin with but later it transformed itself into something else and finally it seems to have decided to fold up altogether. I wonder if the Odyssey store in Jubilee Hills has also met the same fate because I haven’t been there since a long time. Then there’s Akshara that doesn’t seem to have a fixed address. It seems to move to a different address every couple of years. I don’t know where the store is now because it is one store I was made to feel welcome.

I guess some of the bookstores realized they had a problem and had eateries inside the bookstores. Almost all the bookstores in JH/BH seem to either have an eatery inside or be conveniently located near one. However, this doesn’t seem to be working so I have an idea. Maybe they should think of having a bookstore inside an eatery. When the folks of JH/BH pause between their courses maybe they will take a reluctant look at the books. Even if this doesn’t work then as a last resort they should bring out books that can be eaten. The JH/BH crowd will be really happy someone has finally understood them and will be more than happy to buy such books that they can bite into after they have finished reading them.

The Sunday Haul

Anyway, last Sunday at Abids I found just one book that I picked out from a heap selling for twenty rupees only. I bought Ed McBain’s ‘The House that Jack Built’ because the title sounded familiar. It was a hard cover edition and when I sat in the cafĂ© for chai I flipped through the book and hooked by the opening started reading it. I finished it in two days.
The Midweek Haul

Yesterday I happened to visit the Legislative Assembly and while returning to office dropped in at the second hand bookstore at Lakdikapul. I found yet another Alice Munro title- The Progress of Love which is another collection of her short stories. The Progress of Love, Lichen, Monsieur les Deux Chapeaux, Miles City, Montana, Fits, The Moon in the Orange Street Skating Rink, Jesse and Meribeth, Eskimo, A Queer Streak, Circle of Prayer, and White Dump are the stories in this book. Apart from this title the other Alice Munro titles in my collection are: I have Dance of the Happy Shades, Runaway, The View from Castle Rock, The Moons of Jupiter.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Once again it was a cloudy morning last Sunday and there was even a light shower making me wonder if it would rain later in the day. Luckily, the rain stopped before I set off for Abids to look for books. I seem to be on an extended stretch of luck because within moments of parking my bike I found a good title that I already have several copies of. I found yet another copy of ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King that I cannot resist buying for some reason. So far I have found more than a dozen copies of this book and after giving out several copies to people who asked me for it, there are still about half a dozen copies of ‘On Writing’ on my shelves. Coincidentally, this is the fourth copy that I have found at the same seller where I had found my first copy of ‘On Writing’ which, incidentally, did not have a cover. The title was written with a sketch pen on a plain white cover and I was lucky to have spotted it. Anyway, like most of the copies that I had found so far I got this copy too quite cheap. I paid only fifty rupees for this copy which was in decent condition.
My next stroke of luck came minutes later. I have been looking for Romesh Gunesekera’s ‘Reef’ ever since I found his ‘The Match’ a couple of months back. At last I was able to spot it at Abids with a seller who had displayed it rather prominently but had no idea how valuable it was. I was able to bargain for it and ended up buying ‘Reef’ for only fifty rupees. The Granta Books edition that I found was in beautiful condition and I was glad to have found ‘Reef’ at last.
The third book in Sunday’s haul was John O’ Hara’s ‘Appointment in Samarra’ about which I had read somewhere very recently. In fact, it was in ‘Writing a Novel’ by John Braine in which the opening scene was taken as an example of a good beginning. After I read the opening I wanted to read the entire book and luckily, a few days later I found it at Abids last Sunday. Anyway, I got this book pretty cheap. It was the cheapest book in Sunday’s haul, at just twenty rupees.
With these three books the total haul this year has reached stratospheric heights. It is likely to go up further since there is the Hyderabad Book Fair coming up sometime in the next month. I am eagerly waiting to read the announcement about the dates and the venue of the next Hyderabad Book Fair.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Midweek Haul

My streak of luck with books did not end on Sunday with the finding of another copy of GV Desani’s ‘All About H Hatterr’ but continued further. On Thursday I found five more books at bookstores I visited. I was on leave on Thursday since I had to run some errands. Luckily for me, I finished the jobs by afternoon and had a couple of hours to kill. The only thing that comes to mind is to seek out the nearest second hand bookstore and check out the shelves. I was at Begumpet and the MR Bookstore was the nearest bookstore and I dived into it.
One of the titles that had been elusive so far was ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad. At last I found it at the MR Bookstore and got it for a hundred rupees. The next find was another title that I had been looking for. I had read about Kate Chopin’s ‘The Awakening’ somewhere recently and had wondered if I would be able to find it here in Hyderabad at Abids. This title too was there and I bought it again for another hundred rupees.
One discovery of an author that I am rather proud of is Alistair MacLeod. A couple of years ago at a sale by Best Books on a hunch I picked up a collection of short stories titled ‘Islands’ by Alistair MacLeod. Later I found that he was a master short story seller and I regretted not buying book by him titled ‘No Great Mischief’ that was also on the shelf at the sale. One reason was that it was too expensive and also I did not want to take a chance on a writer I did not know. A couple of days later I was surprised to find another collection of short stories ‘The Lost Salt Gift of Blood’ on the pavement at Abids which I got for an unbelievable price of ten rupees. After I read this wonderful collection of short stories I regretted not buying ‘No Great Mischief’ which is the only novel that Alistair MacLeod wrote. Last Thursday I found a paperback copy of ‘No Great Mischief’ for only fifty rupees. ‘As Birds Bring Forth the Sun’ is the only title by this wonderful writer that I do not have. Wish I could find it soon.
My next halt was at another MR store beside the flyover at Punjagutta. There I found another title by an author I had come to know only recently. I had read about Jean Giono’s ‘The Harvest’ somewhere and I had wondered about finding it at Abids. I did not find ‘The Harvest’ but found another title ‘The Slaughterhouse’ that I got for a hundred rupees. Since it was turning out to be a great day for finding books I decided to check out my luck at another store though I was spending more than I had planned.

I landed at the Best Books store at Abids where I stuck gold again. Sometime last week I had bought JM Coetzee’s ‘Disgrace’ which I am yet to begin reading. I know there is a famous Indian writer who said that JM Coetzee was ‘God’ to him. I also know enough to lap up any title by Coetzee. As luck would have it, I came across ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’ at the Best Books store at Abids. But it did not come cheap and I had to shell out a hundred and fifty rupees for it.
In a couple of hours I ended up adding five more books to my ever increasing pile of books. With these five books the total number of books I have bought this year comes to 127. There’s more than a month and half for the year to end and I have no idea how many more books will get added to this total.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Sunday Haul

If finding a third copy of a rare title isn’t enough proof that I am lucky when it comes to books then I don’t know what else would convince me about it. On the other hand it would also be a sign that I should finally start reading the book which is something I am putting off for some reason or the other. I am elated because last Sunday I found my third copy of GV Desani’s ‘All About H Hatterr’ which was a 1972 edition.

Having missed my usual visit to Abids the Sunday before last because I had to go to the office on work, I was quite restless the whole week. It was an anxious wait for this Sunday. Quite unusually, the weather had changed all of a sudden and it became cloudy and there was also a light drizzle in the morning. But that did not stop me from making the trip to Abids. Luckily, almost all the sellers were there and I went around checking out the treasures laid out on the pavements hoping to find something to take back home. There was nothing interesting I found so I started back with disappointment in my heart. There were four more sellers at Chikkadpally on the way back home.
It was at the seller in the corner of the junction of the RTC X Roads that I spotted the copy of ‘All About H Hatterr’ by GV Desani. The drizzle had grown into a steady rain and I was anxious to go home. I saw the book at the last moment, just the name ‘GV Desani’ and I stood still. The book was underneath another book obscuring the cover of Hatterr. It was also out of reach. The seller was taking a long time talking to another customer and I became a bit impatient. Though there wasn’t anybody around who seemed to have noticed the book and also interested in it I felt a bit nervous. So I got down to my knees and lunged forward to extricate the book from the pile. I was thrilled to find it was ‘All About H Hatterr’, an older and different edition than the two I had with me.
It was only in the first week of this month that I had found my second copy of ‘All About H Hatterr’ by GV Desani at Abids. I had found the first copy after several years of waiting, last year sometime in May I guess. It is a title that is difficult to find. So I was mighty pleased to find a third copy. I briefly wondered how many people would have three different editions of this book and imagined that I could be the only person in the country to have them in my possession. The first copy I found was a 1982 edition that I got for Rs 100, and the second copy I found was a 1986 edition that I got for Rs 100 and the latest and third copy that I found is a 1972 edition which makes it a 42 year old book. It is in good condition.

The surprising thing is that I got this book pretty cheap. The seller asked for only fifty rupees which I paid gladly.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Despite the regular shopkeepers keeping their shutters open on Sunday in view of the Diwali shopping spree, many of Abids’s second hand bookseller were present. It is a comforting sight to see all those books laid out on the pavement and the anticipation of finding something rare or good.
One of Paul Theroux’s titles that I am looking for is ‘Fresh Air Fiend’ that I had once found long back but, quite foolishly, had not bothered to pick up right away and hence lost it. I still haven’t found a copy of it but last Sunday at Abids I found a good copy of ‘The Happy Isles of Oceania’ that I already have in my collection. I couldn’t resist buying this second copy since it was in a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees each. The Penguin edition was in perfect condition and I bought it the moment I saw it.

Recently, I came to know about a seller of second hand books in Matunga, Mumbai. In his latest list of books that he mailed to me on my request, I found a title I was unable to find anywhere. He had a hardcover edition of ‘Disgrace’ by JM Coetzee. I ordered the book from him and he mailed to me last week. I waited a whole week for it and I got it the other day.
I was glad to see inside that the hardcover edition was one of the 2500 copies printed to celebrate the centenary of Harvill Secker, the publisher. Though the dust jacket was missing it was more than the two hundred and twenty five rupees I paid for it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Sunday Haul

There is a large gap in my reading that I have been trying to fill since long but not quite succeeding. It is a bit embarrassing to confess that I haven’t read many classics. I haven’t read titles by Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, the Bronte sisters, and many other writers. Somehow I feel daunted by the sheer size of the books and hence have avoided buying and reading them. Recently I made a beginning and read John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ that I found to be good. The Sunday before the previous I came across a good copy of ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen that I was getting for cheap. I bought it.
The next find was by a writer I had read about recently. Currently I am reading Paul Theroux’s ‘Sunrise With Seamonsters’ in which he wrote about Joyce Cary in an essay titled ‘An English Visitor’ which was about Cary’s novels. He had mentioned all the novels except ‘Mister Johnson’ which was the book I found on Sunday. Earlier after I found Chinua Achebe’s books I was looking on the net for reviews and articles on him. I found Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s essay in where she mentioned ‘Mister Johnson.’ When I saw the book at Abids I picked it up without hesitation. It wasn’t exactly a good copy but then I have never seen this book at Abids or anywhere before so I have to make do with that I found.
There was a time when I was quite desperate to find GV Desani’s ‘All About H.Hatterr’ that I found sometime this year after a long search. I was thrilled when I found it since I had read that it was a rare title and copies were difficult to find. However, I found another copy, a beautiful one that was in pristine condition. I got this copy for peanuts, paying only hundred rupees for it.
I also found a book by another regional language author that I picked up based on the cover alone. I found Oriya writer, Gyaneswar Misra’s ‘Face of the Morning’ with the same seller where I found ‘Mister Johnson’ and got it quite cheap. I was very pleased to find it but I really wish I could find something by Fakir Mohan Senapati.
There was another bestseller that I did not buy for various reasons. The book was more than thousand pages long and was thicker than a brick, the price was two hundred and fifty rupees and besides, it wasn’t a title I wasn’t exactly dying to read. The book was ‘Infinite Jest’ by David Foster Wallace which I did not buy.
Sometime during the middle of the week before the last I happened to be in Secunderabad on some errand. Whenever I am in Secunderabad I make it a point to drop in at the Best Book store in YMCA. So I went there for a quick look and found a wonderful book. I saw a collection of ‘Great Love Stories’ in a collection titled ‘My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead’ edited Jeffrey Eugenides.

The hardcover book contains twenty seven love stories written by some big time writers. Here’s the list:

First Love and Other Sorrows by Harold Brodkey

The Lady with the Little Dog by Anton Chekhov

Love by Grace Paley

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

The Dead by James Joyce

Dirty Wedding by Denis Johnson

Natasha by David Bezmozgis

Some Other, Better Otto by Deborah Eisenberg

The Hitchhiking Game by Milan Kundera

Lovers of Their Time by William Trevor

Mouche by Guy de Maupassant

The Moon in Its Flight by Gilbert Sorrentino

Spring in Fialta by Vladimir Nabokov

How to Be An Other Woman Lorrie Moore

Yours Mary Robinson

The Bad Thing by David Gates

First Love by Isaac Babel

Tonka by Robert Musil

Jon by George Saunders

Red Rose, White Rose by Eileen Chang

Fireworks by Richard Ford

We Didn’t by Stuart Dybek

Something That Needs Nothing by Miranda July

The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

Innocence by Harold Brodkey

The Bear Came Over the Mountain by Alice Munro

All these great stories by some of the greatest writers in a hard-bound book, all mine for only two hundred and thirty rupees