Friday, October 28, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 23-10-2016)

It turned out to be yet another lucky Sunday at Abids for me as I ended up with a nice haul. Since Diwali was just a week away it appeared unlikely that I’d find more booksellers on the pavements at Abids than had been there the previous Sunday since almost all the regular shops would be open. But the second hand booksellers were more or less at their usual places with only a couple of them setting up shop elsewhere. What marked this Sunday was the haul of four wonderful titles I found quite effortlessly.
Though I have managed to build a considerable collection of books on writing I owe it two titles for giving me the confidence to begin writing a novel. One is ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King and the other title is ‘The Summing Up’ by Somerset Maugham. I must have picked up about a dozen copies of these two titles over the past few years mostly at Abids. ‘The Summing Up’ opened my eyes to what it actually takes to be a writer, and it also taught me a lot about how and what writers think before they begin to write. It has had a huge influence on me. I think anyone who wants to be a writer must read ‘The Summing Up’ by Somerset Maugham before beginning to put pen to paper.

Anyway, last Sunday’s first find was a decent copy of ‘The Summing Up’ that I saw with a seller who I think is quite stupid because he likes to think that every title he has is worth a lot than what it really is. Surprisingly I managed to get this copy for just thirty rupees and the reason I think is that I was the first customer he had and usually those in the business of selling do not turn away a first customer.

It was a warm sunny morning last Sunday and as usual I sat with my friends, all of them considerably younger, in the café and talked for a long time about movies, books, and also potholes and the inordinately long time it was taking to repair them. After the chai and the talk we set out again like a pack of wolves going out on a hunt.
Autobiographies and memoirs, especially by writers and also those in the movie business, draw me like a magnet. Sometime last year, I had found Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Something Like an Autobiograpy’, his autobiography, obviously. This Sunday I spotted yet another autobiography by another big name in film- Ingmar Bergman. I spotted ‘The Magic Lantern’ on a shelf with a seller just outside the café we had stepped out of. I bought, without a second thought about the price which was a hundred and fifty rupees.
One VS Naipaul title that seemed elusive was ‘The Return of Eva Peron’ that I hadn’t been able to find anywhere since a long time. On Sunday I saw it with another seller on the Abids main road and asked for the price. I felt that the price was too high for Abids’ standards but too less for a Naipaul title but nevertheless I paid fifty rupees and took the book.
In a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees a book, and one that always contains some interesting finds I was surprised to find a copy of ‘The Ugliness of the Indian Male’ by Mukul Kesavan. I do not know how this title ended up in this heap but I decided to rescue it and added it to my haul. It has thirty seven essays on movies, reading, travel, and politics. A long time back I had found his ‘Secular Common Sense’ but haven’t read it. I hope to read these two titles one after the other very soon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 16-10-2016)

These days I am making my Sunday visits to the book bazaar at Abids without much expectation of landing a good haul. It is the festival season of Dasara and Diwali and with the regular shops being open even on Sundays the pavement book sellers aren’t at their usual places and also their stocks are also limited. However though I am returning from Abids with at least one title since the past few Sundays I set out for Abids out of sheer habit. Last Sunday too I thought since Diwali is another fortnight away the shops would be closed and the pavement sellers would be back at their usual places. Though it wasn’t so I managed to end up buying three good titles last Sunday.
The first find was ‘Tim’ by Colleen McCullough that I had been seeing since the past few Sundays. I come across numerous copies of Colleen McCullough’s best known title ‘Thornbirds’ though I haven’t gathered enough confidence to buy it because of its forbidding size and these days I am trying to keep clear of books that would take me at least a month to finish. However ‘Tim’ is a slim book and since I haven’t read any titles by this well-known Australian novelist I thought I’d make a beginning with it. It is a Pan title and I got it for thirty rupees.
There are a few titles about writing I must have picked up at least half a dozen copies of and one such title is ‘The Writing of One Novel’ by Irving Wallace. I must have given away three or four copies to people who have told me that they wanted to write. So I buy this title whenever I see a good copy of it. Last Sunday I found a decent enough copy of ‘The Writing of One Novel’ and bought it quite cheap for just thirty rupees.
Another title, a cookbook, I am unable to resist buying several copies is ‘Made in India’ by Kunal Vijayakar that is quite attractive to look at. Its size, the beautiful finish, and of course, the recipes makes it a good buy. Though I haven’t tried anything in the book I have picked up three copies so far. Last Sunday I found my fourth copy! With Diwali just a few days away from the next Sunday I do not think there would be as many sellers as there were this Sunday. But whatever I will be there next Sunday and every Sunday as long as there are the book sellers on the pavements of Abids.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 9-10-2016)

Due to a technical problem I couldn't post on Friday. Better late than never, hence posting today.
Sometimes I fail to understand why I choose to ignore obviously bestselling titles of which I see several copies at Abids, and instead pick up obscure titles by little known authors. Though these random finds mostly turn out to be quite good titles I have missed out picking up some really good titles due to this eccentricity of mine. I do not pick up such well known and obviously good reads unless I read their reviews or read those titles being praised by someone whose tastes I respect. Last Sunday I found one such title I had seen quite often but failed to buy until I read about it recently.

A long time ago, more than a decade maybe, on a hunch I picked up ‘A Divided Life’ by Bryan Forbes. Until that day I had no idea who Bryan Forbes was. I finished reading that wonderful autobiography a second time last week. In it, Forbes, who is a British film director, novelist mentions that he directed directed the movie based on ‘King Rat. I realized that I must have come across several copies of James Clavell’s ‘King Rat’ many times at Abids but hadn’t thought of buying it.

Last Sunday I saw a good copy of ‘King Rat’ by James Clavell that I got for a hundred rupees. If I had waited for another week or so I could have found a nice copy of this same title in one of those heaps of books that sell for twenty rupees. But last Sunday due to the Dasara festival there weren’t many sellers and not one of them had all their books on sale and were content to display only a few books. There wasn’t much to choose and pick.
In the introduction to ‘King Rat’ John Simpson wrote that James Clavell himself, who by then had begun to write screenplays in Hollywood, wrote the script for ‘King Rat’ the movie. There’s no mention of who directed the movie which is a bit puzzling. Anyway, I am glad I found a nice copy of ‘King Rat’ and also plan to be on the lookout for other titles by Clavell such as ‘Shogun’ and ‘Taipan.’

Friday, October 07, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 02-10-2016)

If I thought I was lucky the previous Sunday after I found my first Madhur Jaffrey cookbook then last Sunday I got luckier. Last Sunday I found another Madhur Jaffrey cookbook that was published even earlier than the one I found the previous Sunday. It was ‘A Taste of India’ by Madhur Jaffrey and published by Pan in 1985 which I got for just sixty rupees. It has state wise sections with a write up on a them followed by some recipes of the most well known dishes of each state. I was surprised to see that not the state but Hyderabad was also featured and more than half a dozen recipes of dishes except biryani. It has some really stunning colour photographs of some dishes by Christine Hanscomb. It looked like a collector’s item and I am glad I found this wonderful book.
The next find also happened to be another cookbook. In a heap of books being sold for twenty rupees near Bata I found a book with a bright yellow cover. It was ‘Punjabi Cooking’ with Premjit T. Gill. It has, as the title suggests, recipes of Punjabi dishes-vegetarian, non-vegetarian, desserts and such things. It is a no-frills book with the sort of font that was common in the eighties and a few line drawings. I liked the simple presentation and hence picked up the book.
In another twenty rupee heap of books I spotted a book with an intriguing cover. The book I spotted was ‘The Hi-Lo Country’ by Max Evans described as ‘one of the greatest Western writers of all time’ on the cover that also had a photograph of a scene from a movie of the same name by Stephen Frears. It seemed an interesting book and since I hadn’t heard of Max Evans I picked it up. I don’t know when I will read it but I hope to read it sometime this year.
On the way back home, at Chikkadpally, I found the book I had missed buying the previous Sunday. I got the copy of ‘Brunizem’ by Sujatha Bhatt published by Penguin. It is a collection of sixty poems in three sections: The First Disciple (18 poems), A Different History (20 poems), and Eurydice Speaks (22 poems). It was a recipient of the Commowealth Poetry Prize (Asia), it says on the cover. This is the 117th book I bought this year and it looks like I will end up buying about 150 books this year too what with three more months left for the year to end including the Hyderabad Book Fair that might be sometime in December.