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Sailors on Shore Leave


Well, try as we might to resist, our family succumbed to the Bargain Basement Blowout at the Joliet Public Library. That photo above is our take--37 books for 10 bucks--with Maddie shying away from it in fear of it collapsing on her. We filled up two paper shopping bags and stowed them in the trunk of our car before heading out on several more errands around town. By the time we got home, I couldn't remember more than about three books out of the fourteen I had bought for myself. The closest thing I can compare the experience to is a drinking binge ("What the hell were you drinking last night? And where were you?" "I don't really know. It's all kind of a blur.") that you wake up from the next morning, trying to identify the stench on your shirt and who those people are in the Polaroids you found in your coat pocket. Yet an experience that leaves you with a bewildered smile.

Here's my personal takeaway: Charles D'Ambrosio, The Point; Studs Terkel, The Great Divide and American Dreams: Lost and Found; Erskine Caldwell, Tobacco Road; James Joyce, Dubliners; Ward Just, The Weather in Berlin; Eric Bogosian, Mall; Morgan Llewellyn, 1916, Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener/Benito Cereno; Calvin Trillin, Travels With Alice, Paul Hoover, Saigon, Illinois; Commodify Your Dissent; John Brown: Great Lives Observed; and a book of novellas by Joyce, Melville, Faulkner, Gogol, etc. Plus Julie picked up a few (including Philip Roth's I Married a Communist and E.M. Forster's Howards End) that I'll probably read eventually.

About the only bit of rationality I displayed was re-shelving several books that I impulsively picked out--most notably Saul Bellow's More Die of Heartbreak. Considering that this probably isn't even one of Bellow's five best novels, and I've never gotten around to reading classics of his Augie March, Herzog, Seize the Day, etc., I probably wouldn't have ever read Heartbreak. So I decided not to buy it, even if it was essentially free.

February 13, 2006 in Books | Permalink

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