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

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Neither festival nor anything seems to stop the second hand bookseller from setting up shop in Abids on Sundays as they have been doing since decades. They do it because they know those who love books (and there are many of them here in Hyderabad) come looking for them. The Sunday before the previous one some of the regular shopkeepers had opened their shops which meant the booksellers had to spread their wares in other parts. This Sunday more shops opened but the book sellers simply went a bit further away with their books on the pavement. I was there last Sunday but without the company of Uma and Shrikant which meant I did not have chai at our usual café. It was a solo hunt but it made me more focused which resulted in a haul of three books.
The first find was Dave Barry’s ‘Bad Habits’ that had been there on the pavements since long. I picked it up though I have another copy of this title. However, it did not come cheap and I had to pay eighty rupees for it. I am always reading one or the other title of Dave Barry to savor his crazy brand of humor which never goes stale.
The second find was a title by a writer I discovered only recently. I found Charles McCarry’s ‘The Last Supper’ in a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees. The bottom of the cover was in shreds and most of the title was also gone. However the author’s name was what caught my eye and thus I found this new title. I already have three of his titles one of which I am currently reading- The Better Angels- which isn’t as good as the first one I had read, which was ‘The Tears of Autumn.’ There is another of his titles that I had found recently- The Miernik Dossier- that I have yet to read.

The third find was not at Abids, but at a seller in Chikkadpally. I found Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘The Purple Hibiscus’ that I bought at a steep price. I got it for a hundred rupees which I think is reasonable enough given that the book was in a good condition and looked almost new. This is the second title by this Nigerian author that I have, the first being ‘That Thing Around Your Neck’ that I had found long ago and have also not found the time to read. At the back of TPH is a list of her ten favorite books and one of the titles is Amit Chaudhuri’s ‘A Strange and Sublime Address’ which I haven’t read. There were only two other titles in that list that I have read- ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Marquez, and ‘Arrow of God’ by Chinua Achebe who happens to be one of her favorite writers and her hero.

With these three books my haul of books till date in this year is 117.