Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Twelve and Re-reading

In my preview of new books for 2012, I omitted the one book I am most eager to get my hands on – Justin Cronin’s sequel to The Passage.  The March 16 issue of Entertainment Weekly reports that The Twelve will be released in the U.S. on October 16.  It also has a passage from the second chapter of the new book.  (This isn’t the first peek at the new book - the paperback edition of The Passage had a preview of The Twelve in it.)  (By the way, this American cover is pretty lame.  Looks more like a heart-wrenching tale about farmers at harvest time than the horrors of life long after a vampire apocalypse.  The UK cover is much better.)

I haven’t read either of these early excerpts because I fail to see the point in sampling a few hundred words when I still have months to wait for the next 600 pages.  (And for a book that is only part two of a trilogy.) And its not like I need a sample to ascertain whether or not I will want to read the book – I already know I do.  News of the impending arrival of The Twelve has me considering whether or not to re-read The Passage.  I probably will re-read The Passage by October – just to familiarize myself with the large cast of characters in it.  I rarely re-read anything anymore – it is hard to justify spending the time on something old when there is so much new to read. I used to reread Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss every few years.  Haven’t done that for a long time now. 

This past week I found myself re-reading Robertson Davies’ The Rebel Angels and enjoying it even more the second time around.   The Rebel Angels is volume one of The Cornish Trilogy – three books about the legacy of Francis Cornish, a Canadian art collector.  (Davies has a thing for trilogies – most famously The Deptford Trilogy as well as The Salterton Trilogy.)  In the first book, a cast of scholars at a Canadian college scheme to gain control of the estate of the recently deceased Francis Cornish.  This is a terrible simplification of a very rich and entertaining book whose subject matter runs from medieval history, mythology, folklore, gypsy culture, paleo-psychology, cultural fossils, art history, Rabelais, Renaissance manuscripts, academic satire, excrement, christianity, and murder.  These are, mostly, subjects I would run from - but from Davies the result is akin to the longest and most entertaining story you've ever heard (the book is very talky - lots of lengthy dialogue).


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Uncovering the Past

We got a bar to do chin-ups and other exercises and had to hang it on a door frame.  Which meant I had to move two giant stacks of books which framed the door frame.  And that then meant that I had to move a bookcase in to a gap between some other bookcases.  But in order to do that I had to move a bureau just a few inches.  But in order to that I had to move all of the books piled on top of the bureau.  (I played a lot with Legos as a kid and I guess I developed a mania for stacking things.)  So I had to move a ton of books today.

But in doing all this work, I uncovered a lot of books that I had not seen in ages.  It was like a great and free day of shopping.  I found firsts of Mystic River, a bunch of Philip Kerr hardcovers, and various Edgar winners from the mid-90s.  For a few minutes I had a first edition of The Heart of the Matter.  But then I discovered it was a book club edition.  Must have been why it didn't live on my Graham Greene shelf.  I found a first edition of Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch.  I must have bought it as soon as it was published in August of 1992 as I found a lottery ticket from September of 1992 in it as a bookmark.  I also turned up a bunch of books on Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman.  And I found two Ross Thomas hardcover first editions I thought I had given away, Out on the Rim and Twilight at Mac's Place.  You can't tell from these photos but much of the rest of what I rearranged was all the literary fiction I must have spent the 90s reading.

The dog helped out by guarding the stacks of books I put around his bed.  I think he was annoyed with all of the commotion.

As a result of the reshuffling of the books, he's now reading Kent Anderson's Night Dogs and Don Winslow's The Power of the Dog.  I also gave him some non-fiction - No Dogs & Not Many Chinese: Treaty Port Life in China 1843-1943 by Frances Wood.  Shih tzus are from China so I guess its appropriate.  (If you look real close you can see he also has a copy of The Cat in the Hat.  Go figure.)
I uncovered a bunch of Detective Book Club 3 in 1 editions.  I remember buying them because they had  Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret in them - this was back when I was trying to acquire all of his books.  Turns out, these books have some interesting things in them that I was not aware of back then.  There is a Brian Garfield novel in one and a Margaret Millar in another.  When I got the Simenons in regular editions I must have covered these books up.  A normal person would have got rid of them, I know.

Found some Household in the household:

This is what I would have been reading had I not spent the day on this project:

For the record, I pretty much knew everything that I had.  I found a few books that I had no memory of.    But there was a lot of stuff that I had not seen in a long time that was nice to be reunited with.