Friday, April 25, 2014


It is infinitely better to stop resolving about not buying any more books because I simply cannot do it. I have to buy the books I come across and that which make me restless if I do not buy them. It makes me far relaxed now that I have decided to keep continuing buying the books I find at Abids and other second hand book stores. Otherwise it took me infinite will power to look at a book I wanted to read without buying it. In this easy frame of mind I made my weekly Sunday trip to Abids and ended up buying three fantastic titles.
A couple of weeks ago I read a book that I had picked up on a hunch at Abids for just ten rupees. It was Charles McCarry’s ‘The Tears of Autumn’ and reading which made me wonder how I had missed not knowing this wonderful writer. I decided to buy any title of his that I happened to come across though it appeared remote. But luckily I saw ‘The Better Angels’ at a second hand bookstore in Begumpet. Though I wanted to buy it right away I did not do so. One reason I did not buy it immediately was the resolution at the back of my mind about not buying whatever books I happened to see and like, and the second reason was that even if I wanted to buy the book, I did not wish to spend a hundred rupees buying it when I could buy the same book at Abids at a quarter of the price.

Lucky guy that I am, last Sunday, I found this very title in a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees. It was a decent enough copy, decent enough to make me forget about the copy I saw in the bookstore. I am eager to read it as soon as I get the time because ‘The Tears of Autumn’ was one damn exciting book.
The next find of Sunday was ‘The Penguin Book of English Short Stories’ that I had seen last Sunday and had not bought due to the same reasons I mentioned above. I got the book for eighty rupees, twenty rupees less than the price the seller had scribbled on the back cover. There are sixteen stories by writers like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Maugham, James Joyce and all the other great writers of that time. This adds to my growing collection of short story titles which is growing at the rate of one title a month. Earlier this month I had found Graham Greene’s ‘Twenty One Stories’ and now this title.
The last and third find of Sunday was an absolute beauty. I found Raymond Chandler’s ‘Farewell, My Lovely’ that I had bought at the Hyderabad Book Fair in 2012. I got this copy on Sunday at just sixty rupees. In 2012 too I got a better copy at the same price.

Incidentally, I met Jai and his friend at Abids while going around looking for books to pick up. We five (me, Uma, Srikanth) sat in an Irani and had chai. We talked about books, fountain pens, and also watches, things around which most of our lives revolve, awake or in sleep.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s death last week was a dampener and the wonderful writer that he was, he richly deserved all the praise that filled the pages of almost every newspaper I read. However, another writer’s death went completely unnoticed because he remains unknown to a large number of people though he is a fantastic writer. A couple of days after Marquez’s death I came across a small news item announcing the death of Alistair MacLeod. I had discovered Alistair MacLeod’s only recently and it was totally by accident that I found his book of short stories- ‘Island’- that I spotted at the Best Books sale sometime last year. Incredibly enough, shortly afterwards I found another famous collection of his short stories- ‘The Lost Salt Gift of Blood’- at Abids for just ten rupees. Unfortunately, I did not buy his novel ‘No Great Mischief’ that was also on the shelf for some reason. Now I realize I had been dumb not have bought it.

Alistair MacLeod’s stories are unforgettable and I am very pleased with myself for having unearthed this wonderful writer on my own. However, his death is an enormous loss. If you ever come across any of his books then do not miss buying them.

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