Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Smuggling, Vonnegut, and Dick

I wound up smuggling 12 years of old New Yorker magazines into my dad's basement at Thanksgiving. The plan was to throw them out now that I have them on DVD. But then I read an article in the Wall Street Journal which reminded me that DVDs won't be around forever. And then I had so much fun leafing through the copies as I packed them that I decided it would be better to keep them. My dad just had shoulder surgery so I knew he wouldn't come out to the car to help me unload when I arrived - and that meant I could sneak them into his basement without him knowing. He's been trying to clean out the basement for years but hasn't made much progress. Still, if he knew there were to be more boxes stored in the basement, it would freak him out.

I took some time over Thanksgiving to dig through boxes of books I had put into storage a long time ago. I excavated all my Kurt Vonnegut paperbacks. I've been thinking about him lately and felt like rereading some of his books. I read most of them in my early 20s and I think I have forgotten them enough to enjoy them all over. (I've also forgotton why I once liked him so much. I'm rereading God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and I'd say its enjoyable. But there's a level of goofiness in much of his work that I don't find as thrilling as I once did. Like when teenagers read and identify with The Catcher in the Rye - it seems that if you read that book as an adult, the impact isn't the same. Vonnegut may be the same way but for people in their early 20s.)

I also dug out all my Philip K. Dick novels. I spent a few years in my early 20s buying up all the copies I could find - which was kind of hard as I remember it. Most of his work was out of print then and the Dick revival had yet to start. After looking through all the old books, I remembered why I bought them but never read them - he's not a good writer. He has some great ideas. But he's not a good writer. I suppose if he had more time to work on his books, wasn't on drugs the whole time, and had publishers and editors who valued his work, then the books would have been much better. A visionary, yes. But not a fun guy to actually read.

The other books I pulled out of the crawlspace were all old Penguins that I wanted to add to my Penguin bookcase here in Washington.

I estimate I have 20-25 large boxes of books in the crawlspace. I plan to rummage through them again at xmas in search of 1980s Vintage trade paperbacks with Lorraine Louie cover art.