Monday, July 18, 2005

Book Orgy

Once or twice a year I log on to Alibris and go blissfully nuts -- sometimes with books, sometimes with music. Alibris offers new and used books at deep discounts (14 of the 20 items in my order cost under $5 each; 2 others cost less than $6 each), with free shipping if one selects enough of certain specially-marked volumes. After plugging in my basic order, I went scouting around to fulfill the free shipping requirement. My haul, this time:

Humberto Constantini's The Gods, The Little Guys & The Police: This is an old friend whom I loaned out and never saw again, and I finally found an old diary entry that gave the exact title and author name. "The Gods" are the Greek gods, who meddle in the lives of "The Little Guys" -- a group of poets, complete with their own little dramas -- and "The Police" are just that, in a state that views private gatherings (e.g., the poets' meetings) as acts of rebellion. Very funny in spots, very poignant in others. When I read it in '87 I pictured Constantini as a Latin Vonnegut.

Edward Conlon's Blue Blood, because (having borrowed it from the library) I want my own copy and Alibris has it for $4.44. I give some details of his memoir at the bottom of "Portrait".

Robinson Jeffers' Selected Poems, which were recommended to me.

Mary Oliver's New and Selected Poems, ditto.

Jim Corbett's Man-Eaters of Kumaon and The Temple Tiger and More Man-Eaters of Kumaon, after reading the following in Hart and Sussman's Man The Hunted:

Jim Corbett, a post-World War I big-game hunter, dispatched the "Champawat Tigress" (436 human casualties -- ranked as the premier man-eater in history) and the "Panar Leopard" (400 victims). Corbett subsequently wrote two volumes about his exploits with tigers hooked on human flesh. The books, Man-Eaters of Kumaon and The Temple Tiger and More Man-Eaters of Kumaon, are chock full of gory deaths and daring exploits. But his respectful admiration for the tiger is also apparent; he was likely one of the first Westerners to realize a need for conservation of Indian wildlife. To give him his due, he also stresses the quiet courage of Indian villagers who lose family and friends to the big cats; by the simple act of looking for a child who has not come home from an errand, a mother risks becoming another meal for a tiger.

(The story I'm writing -- sequel to the trilogy I'm trying to sell, because the characters aren't through with me yet -- deals with predator-prey relationships. The initial impetus for what became the trilogy was Joseph Payne Brennan's poem, "When Tigers Pass." Also on my reading list is Richard Ellis's No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species and Armand Marie Leroi's Mutants.)

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus, which I have never read! It's high time I got with the program.

John McPhee's Basin and Range and Assembling California, because I can't go wrong with McPhee. I've read his Encounters With the Archdruid, Pieces of the Frame, and (most recently) Rising From the Plains.

Bruce Chatwin's What Am I Doing Here?, because I loved his book The Songlines.

Margaret Atwood's Bodily Harm, because I can't go wrong with Atwood, either, and that goes for both her poetry and her fiction. I've read several of her books as well, most recently Oryx and Crake.

James Tiptree, Jr.'s (aka Alice Sheldon) Meet Me at Infinity, because I can't go wrong with Tiptree, either. Most recent book read: Brightness Falls From the Air, many years ago.

Ursula Hegi's Intrusions, because I loved her Stones From the River.

H. Rider Haggard's She, a science fiction classic, which Mary recommended.

John Jakes' The Bastard, The Seekers, and The Warriors, because Mary's been devouring the other volumes of the Kent Family Chronicles (which my mother had bought decades ago) and those three volumes are missing from the set.

Mary also wanted the Boy Scout Handbook -- not the 1990 edition but the 1970 edition.

And -- to surprise her, because her birthday is coming up -- I've ordered Robert Hermann's Energy Momentum Tensors. Mary's taken calculus but not tensor calculus, and she's decided it's probably not as intimidating as she thought lo those many years ago. (She's got degrees in biochemistry and immunology; when she explains things to me my eyes bug out. Years ago we were up through the night talking about Lynn Margulis' and Dorion Sagan's extraordinary book Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution -- that book sparked a novel whose draft is currently in "the deep freeze" awaiting a major rewrite.)

The big-ticket item is a CD of Wayne Shorter's Phantom Navigator. My cassette tape of the album is about 20 years old and nothing I can do makes it sound any closer to me than dragged along the ocean floor. I finally broke down and splurged because music fuels my writing 90 percent of the time. ("Another Place" (Amazing, May 1988) takes its title from a piece by the fusion jazz group Hiroshima, which I played repeatedly as I drafted the story. "Variations for Four Hands" (Yellow Silk, Spring 1985) pays homage to Witold Lutoslawski's "Paganini Variations for Two Pianos.")

Carpe Diem. Carpe more bookshelves....



2 Comments:

Blogger Twyla said...

Wow, what a fantastic haul! Thanks for the link..I'll have to check it out. Wish I had a bigger book budget - my "to buy" list just gets longer. Thank God for libraries.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous colleen said...

I'm still spending the $100 gift certificate I won in a recent poetry slam. Such a treat...like being given a few minutes in a book store to pick up as many free books as you can. Now if I could just get around to reading some of them. I keep waiting for that day when all I'll do is read. My problem is that reading always leads to writing and you know how much time that takes.

12:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home