Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Temptation (more books)

I suppose more often then not I am in the same boat with Oscar Wilde, who said* "I can resist anything except temptation."  I should report that I did resist temptation last night, though will likely only be a temporary victory.

I had dropped off a number of books at Robarts and decided to walk along Bloor to Bathurst in order to drop in at BMV.  I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye out to see if they get a bunch of the Alex Janvier catalogues.  In any case, they didn't have any (it may be more likely that they start getting them in late Dec. or Jan. as the exhibit at the McMichael winds down).  However, they had a full table of recent NYRB titles, mostly priced at 9 to 10 dollars.  If they had been just a bit cheaper, I probably would have scooped up a whole bunch.  As it is, I fought temptation off.  I was able to get home and verify that I do have Zweig's Beware of Pity already, as well as Kennedy's Ride a Cockhorse.  Also, I checked, and there was a general consensus that the brand new translation of Gogol's Dead Souls isn't quite as amazing as they (NYRB) made out, so that the earlier ones are still the ones to track down.  (As it happens, I have the Reavey translation, and then I did order a cheap edition of the Guerney translation, revised by Fusso.)  That said, I may well go back and get Tišma's The Use of Man and certainly Hamilton's Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky if it is there (I don't think it was).  But I will try not to go back for a few weeks.

I'll almost certainly get Faulkner's Collected Stories on my next visit, though I have decided to just get his Uncollected Stories from the library.  There are a number of Canadian authors that were of interest, but again, I think I can be strong and just get them out of the library.  But I will probably be weak with Elias Canetti's memoirs.  They had the 2nd and 3rd volumes in an attractive paperback edition from Granta for $7 each.  If the first had been there, I would have pounced no matter what, but I'll go check out the other BMV and Book City to see if the first one (The Tongue Set Free) is available, but otherwise, there are a few floating about that aren't too expensive, even with shipping to Canada.

Another book-related area I feel quite weak is around the Vintage Contemporaries series.  I don't even own all that many of them (mostly DeLillo and I think I still have McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City), in some cases replacing them with later editions, as with Raymond Carver, but they still remind me of all the time I spent in used bookstores in the late 80s and early 90s.  (Back then I also had a bit of a "crush" on Bard Avon, since they made a point of bringing out writers from South America, such as Garcia Marquez, Vargas Llosa and Jorge Amado.)  Vintage (and Avon) paperbacks are still around but only in bookstores that stock the equivalent of the "long tail" of retail.  Here is someone else with a deep appreciation for these books and, in particular, their covers.  I suppose it is just as well that no one has assembled all these books into a single lot and put it up on eBay, as I would probably go ahead and bid on it.  As it is, there are a few stores around that do stock these older editions, and I may make a bit more of an effort to pick some of them up.  But really at the end of the day, I do care more about the book content and not the cover.  I might just go ahead and generate a checklist of the 100 or so books in the Vintage Contemporaries series to see how far I have gotten through them, but definitely not tonight...

* Or rather had a character say (in Lady Windemere's Fan).  I enjoyed that play quite a bit, so I'll keep my eyes open to see if there will be another production in Toronto soon.

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