Book Heaven

Where the world of books and life intersect

Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Friday, May 19, 2006

They Shoot Book Collectors, Don't They?

At the conclusion of this past Friday's dollar book free-for-all at the Strand, I remarked to an employee that several of the usual suspects were conspicuously missing. It was my impression that, like the mob, once you were in this select group, there was no getting out, that we were in a marathon of sorts, not unlike the marathon dancers of yesteryear, and that graceful retreat was not possible. Nothing short of dropping in your book hunting tracks right on the Strand floor was acceptable. The lesser number of participants (four were missing) meant that we all scored a few more choice books (well, at least choice in our eyes).

My best find that day was Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage (Coffee House Press, 2006). "A tale of exile, unrequited love, and the redemptive power of literature", Fermin is the story of a most unusual hero: Firmin, a rat, resides in the basement of a bookstore in Boston's Scollay Square during that area's bygone bookstore/burlesque era. No ordinary rat he, Firmin can read and he soon becomes friends with the owner of the bookstore and a down-on-his-luck science fiction writer.

Another interesting find was Haiku Guy (possibly the first novel whose subject is the writing of haiku) by David G. Lanoue (Red Moon Press, 2000), but hands down the most bizarre title was By the Time You Finish This Book You Might Be Dead by Aaron Zimmerman (Spuyten Duyvil, 2003): "Eliot Greebee, a lonely, overweight, middle age Certified Public Accountant is the creator of CUTLAS, a mathematically based system designed to justify a purely hedonistic lifestyle. Practioners can do whatever they want whenever they want." Oh, and let me not forget Wheeler Dealer: The Rip Roaring Adventures of My Uncle Gordon, a Quadriplegic in Hollywood by Chip Jacobs (First Person Press, 2006)which (I think) is the true story of the author's grandfather, Lee Zahler. It probably sounds like I'm making these books up, but they're all REAL! I wish I could figure out how to post pictures here because if I wasn't such an idler, I'd have pictures of these books accompanying this entry just to convince the doubters among you.

Once upon a time I had the brilliant idea that I would read all of the Dan Turner pulp stories of Robert Leslie Bellem. A silly idea to be sure which didn't get very far before I abandoned it. A far better idea was my recent thought to start reading the Nebula award winning stories. The first story I read was not even the winner but was one of the nominated stories which you can find in Nebula Awards Showcase 2006: The Year's Best SF and Fantasy edited by Gardner Dozois (ROC, 2006). The story is Travels With My Cats by Mike Resnick, a story that Resnick feels is one of his best. Instead of a Tarzan or a Mickey Spillane novel, an eleven year old boy is resigned to buy the only book he can afford at a garage sale -- Travels With My Cats by Miss Priscilla Wallace. After initially fascinating him,the book sits unwanted and unloved until the young boy, now forty years old and leading a life of quiet desperation, returns to it and finds his life totally transformed by this obscure little book. Look for this one -- you'll love this story!


Blogger Bill said...

A good detective would find out what happened to the missing bookers. There's probably a store in there somewhere.

6:12 AM  
Anonymous Chip Jacobs said...

Actually, the book is about the
author's uncle, a hard-living
cripple having kicks (and periodically causing grief) in
America's fantasy land. Gordon
Zahler's dad was Lee, a prolific
Hollywood composer until his
son's 1940 accident broke the
family ... and later his heart.
It was after he died that Gordon
decided to stop partying and laying
around and do something big, numb
from the neck down or not.

Thanks so much for the interest.

Chip Jacobs, author Wheeler-Dealer.

8:38 PM  

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