Friday, January 27, 2017

The Sunday Haul

At Abids last Sunday it felt like a mid-summer morning because it was unbearably hot even though it wasn’t yet noon. It felt like summer was already upon us and I have a feeling that this summer it is going to be very hot, hotter than what it was last summer. Last Sunday’s visit to Abids resulted in only one book in the haul. I found a book by someone who had left the IAS and written a book titled ‘Why I am Not a Civil Servant.’ It was by Ajay Singh Yadav who, I read in the book, had launched a political party and also contested the general elections. It sounded interesting because I have heard of other people who left the IAS and either joined politics (Jaya Prakash Narayan of Lok Satta) or joined the private sector.
On Monday, I dropped in at the Akshara bookstore in Jubilee Hills. It happens to be quite near to the place where I am working now in a different posting about which I plan to write in another post. The first thing that struck me as soon as I entered the store was the smell of books that I could never find in other stores. It made me feel at home and I spent about an hour checking out the stock in another room at the back where I had found some interesting titles on an earlier visit sometime last year. This time too there were a lot of books I wanted to buy but I ended up buying just one. I picked up a story collection titled ‘The Last Exit’ by Nirmal Verma, the acclaimed Hindi writer, for just fifty rupees.
A long time back I had watched an interview with Nirmal Verma on DD but unfortunately I had not paid much attention to what he said because at that time I was not as interested in knowing about writers as I am now. I only remember that he discussed about his stay in Czechoslovakia and the Sahitya Akademi award that he got for his book. The book I picked up ‘The Last Exit’ is an English translation of the same collection of stories in Hindi- Kavve aur Kaala Paani- that got it the Sahitya Akademi award. It has seven stories including ‘Crows of Deliverance’ that I remember seeing somewhere. But I am glad I found this book that I plan to begin reading right away.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 15-01-2017)

My luck with books seems to be holding on well into the New Year also. In the first two Sundays of this month I found some pretty good titles on the pavements of Abids. I had found titles by Julian Symons(Critical Observations) Frank Harris, and also Jean Genet (Querelle at Brest). Last Sunday again I foudn five good titles which take the tally of books I have bought this month alone to twelve. If I keep buying books at this rate I think I will end up with aother haul of nearly two hundred books by the end of this year also. I cannot help picking up the titles I see because I find them too good to leave behnd like the two Dashiel Hammets I came across last Sunday.
It may sound odd but I love to read film related books though I myself do not watch movies as often as I wish, I watch about two or three moveies in a year which is less than the number of film related books I buy every year. My first find last Sunday at Abids was such a film related book. I found a nice copy of 'Our Films Their Films' by Satyajit Ray. I snapped it up the instant I spotted it. It was a good copy and the seller asked for just thirty rupees for it.
The second find was a book by an author I thought I was familiar with. I saw a copy of 'A Loss of Heart' by Robert McCrum but I wondered if it was the same Robert McCrum who wrote 'My Year Off' and also a book on PG Wodehouse. When I checked the inside pages of ' A Loss of Heart' for list of other titles by the author I did not find 'My Year Off' in it. Later I found online that it was the same author. Since the book was a thriller and the blurbs at the back were impressive I went by my gut instinct and picked it up. I got it for only twenty rupees.
The next find was a title I had sen the Sunday before. I had seen 'Johnny Got His Gun' by Dalton Trumbo but hadn't bought it though the blurb at the back said this: It was a Vietnam war novel and I have read enough titles like it to know how hardhitting and gut churning they are. After some hesitation wondering if I'd be able to take all that I finally bought it thinking I'd be a fool not to read a book that 'Washington Post' says is 'A terrifying book, of extraordinary emotional intensity.'
The next finds were the two Dashiell Hammett titles that I found one after the other. I first saw 'The Maltese Falcon' in a heap selling for only twenty rupees with a seller who did not seem to know its value. I grabbed right away though I have a copy at home. Even before the excitement of finding one of the greatest classics of crime fiction died away I stumbled upon a nice copy of 'The Continental Op' with another seller a few feet away. I was surprised at the coincidence of finding two Dashiell Hammett titles within minutes. I have a copy of 'The Continental Op' too at home but I bought it because I couldn't bear not buying it, and also because I was getting it for just thirty rupees.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 8-1-2017)

Abids in Hyderabad is the only place I know where one can buy a book (a second hand one) for as little as ten rupees only. A couple of years back one could get them for five rupees only but now it is ten rupees. For a long time I hadn't seen the ten rupee heaps at Abids but last Sunday I saw one such heap. In it I found a gem. I found 'Querelle of Brest' by Jean Genet. Though I haven't read the other Jean Genet title (The Thief's Journal) that I had found at Abids sometime back I picked up 'Qurelle of Brest' not for the price that I was getting it for but I had a feeling that it would be a good book.
The copy of 'Querelle of Brest' that I found was in good condition and I was glad at having spotted it. From the looks of it and the blurbs on the back by Edmund White and Cyril Connolly 'Querelle' promises to be an interesting read. I saw another title that I felt I should have picked up but for some reason I didn't. It was 'Johnny Got His Gun' by Dalton Trumbo. After I got home I checked out this title online and realized I was dumb not to have bought it. I hope to buy it next Sunday if no one has bought it by then.

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 1-1-2017)

It is quite difficult for me to put into words why I feel like buying books all the time. Not more than a week has passed since the eleven day Hyderabad Book Fair ended just a day after Christmas and where I had bought thirteen books in the four or five visits I made to it. By the time I was done I had bought a total of 157 books in all during the year.

Last Sunday, incidentally, the first day of the New Year I was at Abids as usual. In the year gone by I had picked up more than a hundred and thirty or so books at Abids on Sundays. After buying thirteen books at the Book Fair only a week earlier I thought it wouldn't be a bright idea to take home more books. So last Sunday I started for Abids with the intention of returning home empty handed. However, once at Abids, the sight of all those books tempts me a lot and I ended up buying five books.
The first book I saw had the picture of George Clooney on the cover. It was a title that seemed to have been made into a movie. The copy of 'The American' by Martin Booth that I found was in a good condition and came for fifty rupees. With the same seller I found another interesting title- The Ayurvedic Cookbook- that I bought. It was a hardcover title but I got it for just fifty rupees.
After the usual chai and half hour of talk with friends in the Irani hotel at Abids I set out again. Sometime during the eleven day book fair I had overheard a young woman asking a bookseller if he had any books about Indian birds. She was disappointed when the seller said no. I felt sorry for her since she seemed very keen. Many years ago I had seen a copy of Salim Ali's books on the birds of India. But it had been in a very bad condition with a torn cover and missing pages and I did not buy it. Last Sunday I came across a hardcover copy of 'Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.' It had plenty of illustrations and pictures of several birds inside. Except for a bit of the cover missing the book was in a good condition and cost me only a hundred and fifty rupees.
In a heap of books selling for thirty rupees only I found a book with an interesting cover that suggested it would be an old and interesting title. It was 'My Life and Adventures' by Frank Harris. I usually buy memoirs and autobiographies by any literary personality so when I read inside that Frank Harris had been an editor of 'Saturday Review' I bought it.
A little further down the road I saw another old book with the author's photograph on the cover that had something all over it that made me pick it up for a closer look.The name of the author- Julian Symons also rung a bell somewhere inside my head and made me buy it. Inside I saw that Julian Symons had written on Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Agatha Christie and also had articles on a literary magazine and others that I bought it without a second thought. I had a pleasant surprise when the seller asked for just thirty rupees for this hardcover gem.
After finding the above five books that were weighing me down I thought I wouldn't come across any more good title worth buying when I saw another title which was a memoir. I found 'The Spiral Staircase' by Karen Armstrong that I got for fifty rupees only. So I began the new year with a haul of five books and it looks like I am going to end this year too with another haul of nearly two hundred books.