Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 19-06-2016)

As the month of Ramzan has already begun the shopkeepers in Hyderabad keep their shops open on Sundays also. Abids is no exception and since the stores selling shoes, dresses, etc that abound in Abids were open the second hand booksellers who occupy the pavements before this shops shift to other places. Not finding the regular booksellers at their usual places causes some sense of dislocation. Despite this dislocation I had the usual haul netting two books last Sunday at Abids.
It was a bit of luck that I spotted ‘In the Country of Men’ by Hisham Matar nestled in a pile of haphazardly arranged books with only the Penguin logo being visible. I usually do not miss out checking out Penguin titles so I extricated this book from the pile with some difficulty. I do not remember the titles but the name Hisham Matar was familiar as I had come across the name many times. I decided to buy this book and paid only forty rupees for this book in a good condition.
In the plant pathology classes at the agricultural college where I studied a long time back I read about the potato late blight disease that damaged the potato crop in Ireland completely and caused a famine that claimed millions of lives. At that time it was only a statistic, a fact useful only during examinations. I hadn’t realized the human dimension behind that tragedy and so when I came across a copy of ‘Famine’ by Liam O’ Flaherty I decided to check it out. The blurb on the front cover said it was ‘one of the greatest novels of this century’ and Anthony Burgess called it ‘a major achievement, a masterpiece’ which was enough to make me decide to buy it. It is, as classics go, a lengthy book of nearly 450 pages. But I am glad I found it and gladder still that I got it for only forty rupees.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 12-06-2016)

It’s been almost two weeks since the monsoon season has begun but the rains have yet to fall. Since there has been a drought here for the past two years I really wish it would rain heavily and regularly but not on Sunday, please. For some reason I do not like it when it rains. The cloudy weather and the wetness that the rains come with brings on a gloom in my life that lifts only when the sun comes out. Since it hasn’t yet started to rain I am normal and yet to be engulfed by the rain-induced gloom that brings back painful memories. Last Sunday it was quite sunny when I started for Abids to hunt for books on the pavements there.
Even before I was halfway through to Abids I stopped at a seller in RTC Crossroads on a hunch. I was glad I followed my bunch to stop there because I spotted a good book in a pile stacked up against the wall. I found ‘Everyone Can Write’ by Peter Elbow. It was quite a hefty paperback of nearly 500 pages containing several lengthy academic essays on the process on writing. Academic or whatever when it comes to anything about writing I’m willing to empty my pockets. I got this book for a hundred and fifty rupees which was quite cheap considering the immaculate condition of the book and what it is about.
Later at Abids it was a happy reunion of all my friends I made through this blog where I write about books mostly. I met Umashankar, Srikant, and also Jai and we dug through a large pile of books where we had gathered. Our search yielded quite a few good titles as Shrikant and Uma found two different copies of ‘Kitchen Confidential’ by Anthony Bourdain. I found a nice copy of ‘Diary of a Madman and Other Stories’ by Gogol. Since I had not come across any such collection of stories by Gogol I picked it up from the pile of books selling for thirty rupees.
The last find was a title by Ross Macdonald that I spotted with another seller in a heap of books selling three for a hundred rupees. The title I found was ‘MEET ME AT THE MORGUE’ and I was excited at finding another Ross Macdonald title to add to my collection of his books. But I was disappointed when I saw that it was not a Lew Archer novel. I bought it nevertheless because Ross MacDonald is the kind of writer you wouldn’t want to miss reading.
With these three books the total number of books I found so far this year stands at eighty eight.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 5-6-2016)

Sometimes being deprived of something one is addicted to has a brighter side to it. Among other things one learns to savor what one is deprived of. Last Sunday visiting Abids after a two-week gap I realized the eye had become keener and the hunger to find good titles is a bit sharper. I ended up finding seven good titles at Abids last Sunday that washed away any remnants of resentment I had over not being able to go to Abids and look for books on the pavements.
When I spotted a book by Cyril Connolly I did not even want to look at it because I thought his were books that I wouldn’t understand. Though I had come across the name ‘Cyril Connolly’ enough times to remember it I hadn’t bothered to find out more and it was my loss. Last Sunday after much hesitation I picked up the slim and small copy of ‘The Unquiet Grave’ by Cyril Connolly that I decided to buy for the sole reason that it was a Penguin and I strongly believe that Penguin publishes only the best writing. It sounds like a very interesting book judging from the blurbs on the front cover and the back.
Sunday’s second find was a nice copy of ‘Billion Doller Brain’ by Len Deighton that I had been eyeing since the past few weeks at the same spot with the same seller. I have a couple of copies of this title but nevertheless I bought this copy too hoping to pass it on to someone who hasn’t yet discovered Len Deighton’s magic.
I found the third and fourth books of the day in a heap of books selling for twenty rupees only. I found a good copy of ‘Black Sun’ by Edward Abbey. (I have already finished reading it.) I also found a copy of ‘Memoirs of Hecate County’ by Edmund Wilson in the same heap. The first time I saw this title a long time back I had a feeling that it could be a good read. But somehow for whatever reason I did not buy it and later I regretted not picking it up. This time however I did not want to lose it so I picked it up. I am also looking for a good copy of ‘Peyton Place’ by Grace Metalious to read along this book.
The last find at Abids was a book by another author who is one of my favorites- Arun Joshi. I found yet another copy of one of the earliest editions of Arun Joshi’s ‘The Foreigner. Sometime recently I had found a good copy of this same edition and added it to my collection of multiple copies of novels by Arun Joshi. I couldn’t resist buying this copy too and adding to the delight was the price which was just forty rupees that the seller asked.
Later at Chikkadpally on the way home I found a nice and almost new copy of ‘South of the Border West of the Sun’ by Haruki Murakami. It was a slim volume and in quite good condition and I expected the seller to quote hundred or hundred and fifty rupees for it. I did not let the shock on my face show when the seller asked for fifty rupees so I quietly handed him the cash and took the book.
The last find also at Chikkadpally but at a different seller was yet another book on writing. I must have close to a hundred and fifty books on writing half of which would have been more than enough for anyone to get started on their writing yet I wanted, desperately, to buy the copy of ‘Writing on Both Sides of the Brain’ by Henriette Anne Klauser that I saw at Chikkadpally.

Friday, June 03, 2016

A Midweek Haul

The past two Sundays I haven’t been to Abids to look for books as is my habit. The Sunday before last I had to attend a funeral. Last Sunday I had to go to an event that went for a long time leaving me no time to go to Abids. It left me with a restlessness that comes to me when I am unable to go to Abids. Sometime on Wednesday or so I decided to drop in at the Abids branch of Best Books. I had seen a Hindi novel on my previous visit and I wanted to buy it. But when I tried to locate it I couldn’t. Looking around the hundreds of books on the shelves I spotted a cover that had ‘BOOKS’ on it. I took it out and saw that it was ‘BOOKS- Identification and Price Guide’ by Nancy Wright.
‘BOOKS’ had a few pages of what book collecting is and how to identify first editions and all that. The rest of the book was a lengthy list of books arranged alphabet wise and its likely price. Naturally I am terribly interested in anything that has got to do with books so I bought it. Going through it might help me find rare books or first editions next time I visit Abids or any second hand bookstore. I do not have many books on book collecting though I am quite desperate to lay my hands on something that has a lot of information. I hope someday I will come across a good guide.