Saturday, September 12, 2009

Opening Night at the Charity Book Sale

Part of our haul from the Charity Book Sale

It was Opening Night at the Big Charity Book Sale. There we were browsing and competing with hundreds of readers for choice books in an enormous building stocked with 300,000 volumes.

The first night costs $10 and is bedlam. The classics section is bottlenecked - people squeeze together and grab copies of E. M. Delafield's Provincial Lady books, Thackeray's The Virginians, The Brontes' Juvenilia, The Library of American edition of Cheever, Updike's Rabbit books, first editons of Ruth Suckow and Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Dawn Powell, Flannery O'Connor, various Viragos, sets of Russians, N. G. Chernyshevsky's What Is to Be Done?, and just about anything you want (except the copy of Little Dorritt with notes). Book dealers race around distractedly scanning book bar codes with a little machine which I assume plugs into their store and tells them whether they've got the book. The crowd, many of whom are nearsighted, more of whom move in a trance with eyes downcast, and all of whom are euphoric, can get a little frantic: the shopping carts barely fit between the aisles and people who get there late like us have to grab boxes under the tables and just kick them along the aisle gently. (Finally we got a cart after two and a half hours.) The fiction section takes up about fifteen rows. The rest are biographies, humor, sports, foreign languages, reference books, sets of classics, travel, cookbooks, old school books, nature books, crafts books, music books, magazines, - everything.

I wiped out the Storm Jameson collection. I’ve read some of her post-WWI socialist novels in Virago copies purchased at previous sales: Company Parade and Love in Winter. There is a new biography of Storm Jameson, so interest has been revived in her. This year I found A Cup of Tea for Mr. Thorgill (1957) - I can’t resist a title with “Tea” in it. The cover says it's about "the close-knit world of an Oxford college, epitomized by the Master and the Master's house, a haven of good taste, intelligence and aristocratic noncomformity." Hm. There's a student from the slums and something happens. "No one can read this story unshaken." (The cover synopsis is bad, but Jameson is very good.) There Will Be a Short Interval (1973) sounds like a downbeat modern version of The Professor's House: a historian examining his life and family. We'll see.

I also found:

1. A first edition of Ann Beattie's Chilly Scenes of Winter for $1.

2. J. G. Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur, in a NYRB edition, for $3. It won the Booker Prize.

3. Some contemporary fiction: Ron Carlson’s Five Skies, Sebastian Barry’s The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, and Jane Smiley’s The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton.

4. Regional fiction: A copy of Ruth Suckow’s The Folks to replace my tattered one, Edna Ferber’s American Beauty, Marjorie Rawling’s The Sojourner, and two by Mari Sandoz, Slogum House and The Tom-Walker.

5. A novel by D. E. Stevenson, Celia’s House. I’m hoping this will be the equal of her witty Mrs. Tim books, but have to admit I’ve been disappointed in everything except the Mrs. Tim books and Miss Buncle.

It was quite a haul: two huge tightly-packed boxes of books for $95!


Ellen said...

Wow. What a beautiful sale. Our Northern Library Book sale does not have anything like this excitement and our books are poorer. Maybe it's been going for too many years :).


Mad Housewife said...

It's a good sale, but I do come home with junk as well as treasures.

I found lots of my Trollope and Viragos there in past years.