Monday, April 27, 2009

A House Trashed by Books

This foggy morning I'm sitting in what was once a lovely room. All around me huddle stacks of books, unlovely, in that I can't read them or even properly see most of the spines & titles. Village Books is moving all right and it's re-located into every nook and cranny of my home, awaiting its new space.

It occurs to me that used book dealers should be in vogue these days - after all, we recycled long before most people. And we recycle the best of what humanity has to offer - our stories, our observations, our musings; whatever, in fact, comes into our heads and can be written down. This is how we learn from each other and from other eras; this is how we are reminded that we can triumph as we have before.

In this spirit, I'd like to remind you of or introduce you to some older volumes that you may have overlooked or forgotten. All of these titles are favorites and, of course, all are available from Village Books.

Parnassus on Wheels & The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley, 1917, 1919
These two charming books are often available at your local used book shop or even Goodwill.
I've always been envious of Parnassus, a little book caravan that travels the American countryside selling what people truly need. That's the life for me! And what better place to browse (maybe minus the pipe smoke), than The Haunted Bookshop, where the owner, Roger Mifflin, now married in Brooklyn and a stationary rather than rolling purveyor of books, becomes involved in an urban-sized mystery and the lives of two young lovers.

Herself Surprised, The Horse's Mouth, and Prisoner of Grace by Joyce Cary 1941, 1944, 1952
Many people have read Horse's Mouth or seen the movie version starring Alec Guiness as the redoubtable painter, Gulley Jimson. The Horse's Mouth is a classic and rightfully so. It's both poetic and rollicking, a difficult combination to achieve. But did you know that Sarah Monday has a book all to herself and is Surprised (perhaps the most entertaining of the three) and that the whole, complicated mess is sorted (and philosophized about) in Prisoner?

And finally (for today), nothing can beat the Mrs. Tim Christie series by D.E. Stevenson (1934 & on). These witty stories are written in diary form by Hester Tim, wife of a British Infantryman between the wars. These are light reads; but they convey a stalwartness (particularly in Mrs. Tim Carries On, which takes place as WWII begins) and courage that we desperately need in the US today. Charmingly told tales of frugality, perseverance and charity to one's neighbors are just what we need these days. The Mrs. Tim books have become collectors' items, but you may find them (as I did) in a library that doesn't "cull" its stacks every five seconds or, of course in a truly good used book shop. Like Village Books.

More soon,


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