Saturday, January 09, 2010

Book Haul & Cover Art

There was another charity book sale. Not THE book sale--not the one with 300,000 volumes in a 4H barn, which I wrote about in the fall--but a small disorganized sale in a corner of the mall. I almost didn’t go, because i hate malls.

But I’m glad I did, because look at my haul. We had to sit on the floor and sort methodically through the boxes, some dumped in a large rectangular space in the middle of the rectangle of tables. People browsed not quite knowing what they were looking for. Was it all going to be Frank Yerby, Norah Lofts, and James Patterson, or were we going to find something unusual? The people working at the sale were nice but didn’t know the difference between hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and mass market paperbacks. “Are those hardbacks?” they asked us about the trade paperbacks. They were sweet, but not book people. In the end they charged us 50 cents per book.

So what did we find?

I came away with three Bantam New Fiction paperbacks from the ‘80s, a series of paperback originals published to compete with Vintage Original paperbacks. These attractive novels, known as “yuppiebacks,” were originally published in paperback, and written by the likes of Jay McInerney, Sara Voss, and Bret Easton Ellis. Ann Hood got her start with Bantam New Fiction. So did Glenn Savan, whose White Palace was eventually made into a movie. I’ve not read Emily Listfield or Richard Lees, but like the cover art. Pamela H. Patrick did the illustration for Ann Hood’s book, Christine Rodin for Slightly Like Strangers, and John Jinks for Parachute.

My husband came away with The Cave, his favorite Saramago.

And the other jumble, a mix of mysteries, one classic, a romance, and two middlebrow novels by Edna Ferber and H. E. Bates, will eventually be read in bed, or outdoors when our 15 inches of snow finally melts.

COVER ART: I've decided that cover art might be a good organizing principle for my winter reading. I’ve been searching my shelves for books with cover illustrations by Thomas Canty, who illustrated many science fiction and fantasy books. I bought some of these, embarrassingly, only because I liked his cover illustrations. The best one so far: I have begun reading Jonathan Carroll’s Bones of the Moon, a slim, strange novel about--well, I’m not sure what it's about. It’s impossible to describe his surreal, weird novels, peopled by exotic human beings, talking dogs, and camels. It is narrated by a beautiful, intelligent, imaginative woman, Cullen, who, after marrying a basketball player and having a daughter, begins to dream richly
of a world called Rondua, where she and her son, Pepsi--perhaps the fetus she aborted before meeting her husband?--go on a quest, directed and accompanied by talking animals. Cullen is disturbed by the dreams, but a psychiatrist tells her they are normal. Her life is getting stranger and the dreams scarier. The novel is beautifully written, serious, but not without humor.

Honestly, I intended to finish the book today--I was riveted by it this morning--but didn’t have time. I recommend Carroll’s books, but am too lazy to write about them. They’re not quite fantasies, not quite poetry. The closest I can come to a comparison is an indescribable book by David Lindsay, The Haunted Woman. Lindsay is best known for A Voyage to Arcturus, but The Haunted Woman is more in the bewildering weird tone of Carroll’s. Carroll is an American writer who has lived in Vienna forever, so I’m guessing some of his influences are European.

Anyway, there are record amounts of snow and it’s a good time to stay home and read books with good cover art, including the novels of Jonathan Carroll.


ethan said...

Nice post. Jonathan Carroll also keeps one of the great daily blogs on his website
Insightful, funny, passionate they read like his books in miniature

Frisbee said...

I've got it on my blogroll! Thanks for stopping by.