ODD BITS ON A TRIP TO HALF-PRICE BOOKS

BOOKS BOUGHT

Easy Greek/A Photo Phrase Book by HarperCollinsUK

The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry by Walter Pater

The Writing Life by Random House Publishers

The Mabinogion by Dover Thrift Editions

The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker

BOOKS READ

Easy Greek/A Photo Phrase Book

Harmony’s Way by Lora Leigh

The Story of A Hundred Operas by Felix Mendelsohn

 

"Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

                                                                  Rosalind Russell as Mame Dennis

Such is the case when you walk into the hodge-podge pot pourri of books known as HALF-PRICE BOOKS.  HPB is an all-Half Price Booksyou-can-eat of ideas.  That’s why I always walk out of there with a motley assortment of brain- ticklers.  Variety is the order of the day.  You’re at once amazed at how much drek is published as well as how many jewels remain unmined.  I go in looking for polished gems, but most often come out with rough, semi-precious stones.  Turquoise instead of diamonds.   

 

The Greek phrase book I attacked right away.  Compact, sturdy and loaded with color illustrations.  Nice.

The Pater book is an edition from THE MODERN LIBRARY.  Originally published in 1873, it’s a collection of essays and stories about a tiny coterie of artists spanning the French, Italian, and possibly Dutch Renaissance.  My ML edition was published in 1940.  It has the soft sepia tones of aged paper and the scent of your grandparents’ closet.  That scent. That’s what absolutely sends me.  Ever since I was a kid, I associate that scent of musty closet with hidden treasure.

The Writing Life is also a collection.  National Book Award authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, John Updike, and Norman Rush write about writing and a writing life.  Just flipping through it, whole paragraphs of sane, erudite, blunt prose have hooked me.  This is going to be my next portable feast.  It even has a great, useful blurb.  The blurb on the back groups the authors in three and offers a brief description of their contributions. Excellent! Above that it says "America’s most honored authors, National Book Award winners and finalists, reveal what it means to be a writer."  Okay. Nice. I can use that information.  William Zinsser, in ON WRITING WELL,  bravely addresses many of the themes covered by the dozen and a half writers in TWL all by himself.  Annie Dillard, in her own WRITING LIFE, beautifully and simply pulls us into the isolation that is so necessary for a writer. 

The 100 Operas book is NOT written by the composer of "Fingal’s Cave".  It’s another Felix M.  One "S", not two.  This most portable of portables is the size of a large pack of cigarettes.  The slip cover is long gone; all that’s left is the red hard cover with gold lettering.  It was copyrighted in 1913, then published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1940.  In the foreward, the publishers explain how the book was compiled to bring the wonder of opera to the masses.  Hey, it worked for me.  I went to see a Met production of "La Sonnambula" last week, and if I had not read the story of the sleepwalking lady, I would have come away with less — not unenthusiastic — but less appreciation of the drama.  In fact, I was a bit thrown by the fact that there’s not much to the story.  It’s short, not even particularly interesting, and the characters are a bit thick.  But when you see it in live HD with glorious voices and gorgeous costumes…wow!  They make you care!

I updated my SHELFARI site today.

RELATED POSTS:

ODD BITS ON A TRIP TO BARNES & NOBLE

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OLDIES BUT GOODIES, PARTE THE SECONDE

OLDIES BUT GOODIES 3: HORS D’OEUVRES OF FRENCH PHILOSOPHERS, APPETIZERS OF A. CONAN DOYLE

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