Friday, January 09, 2015

The Haul

Except for the books I found and a few fountain pens I bought, for me, the year that passed had been a dismal year. There was nothing remarkable or memorable about 2014 for me so I do not want to write much about what had (or had not) happened to me last year. This is one reason why there was no post here last Friday.

Last year I bought a total of 168 books. Almost all of them were quite good titles and some of them were titles I had not expected to find, such as a short collection of Flannery O’ Connor, a book of verse by Seamus Heaney, second and third copies of ‘All About H Hatterr’ by GV Desani, and the splendid haul of books at the Book Fair in December. I also came across some fantastic authors I did not know about- Charles McCarry, Ross Thomas to name two. I guess 2014 was the best year I had in terms of books.

Apart from books, in fountain pens one of my dreams came true. I always prefer eye dropper filler mechanism in my fountain and that preference meant that I had to make do with mediocre nibs. I had always dreamt of Indian hand made fountain pens fitted with good nibs that are available abroad and that write smoothly. Jai introduced me to one such person who made three fantastic fountain pens for me that I thought were heaven sent. After finding them I lost all interest in other types of fountain pens.
Other than books and fountain pens nothing else went right for me last year. There were a lot of disappointments, failures, and non-starters. I hope 2015 undoes all that went wrong in 2014.
On the last Sunday of the year I found ‘The Green Gardner’ by Jayanta Mahapatra. The book was almost brand new and I got it for thirty rupees. It is a collection of the following eighteen short stories : The Disappearance of Protima Jena, The Green Gardener, 30th January 1948: An Evening, And Under the Casuarinas, In a Lost Love’s Turning, Eyes, Ringing Silences, The Hotel Room, The Trunk of Ganesha, An Afternoon of Dr Das, Turn Left for Happiness, The Bottle of Perfume, The Death of a Boy, The Old Man in the Dark, Bells for a Bull, The Mango Tree, Another Day, and Red.
Last Sunday, which was also the first Sunday of the year, I found a title I had thought would take me a long time to find. I found Graham Greene’s ‘The Lawless Roads’ in a heap of books with obscure titles that were selling for twenty rupees. I almost missed it because the cover was torn and the book too did not look very impressive. Only after I read the title carefully did I realize what it was. I felt lucky to have found such a good title for so cheap.
The next find was in another heap of book selling for only twenty rupees. I found ‘Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories-2’ by Annie Proulx. There are eleven stories in the collection. These are the stories: The Hellhole, The Indian Wars Refought, The Trickle Down Effect, What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick, The Old Badger Game, Man Crawling Out of Trees, The Contest, The Wamsutter Wolf, Summer of Hot Tubs, Dump Junk, and Florida Rental. The book was in an excellent condition and I picked it up the moment I saw it. I already have ‘Brokeback Mountain and Other Stories’ so finding this title was quite a coincidence.
However, the first find was another classic title that I found in a heap of book selling for only ten rupees. I saw ‘The Elements of Style’ by Strunk & White the first thing after I had parked my bike. I immediately picked it up though I have several copies of this book with me. Though I made a good start finding some good titles on the first Sunday itself I hope to buy not more than fifty books.

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