Thursday, December 06, 2012

Pithy and Pulpy

A few years ago, a used bookstore I frequent hired a new manager.  I guess he's the manager - I never asked.  The place is a one-man operation but owned but somebody else, that I do know.  I always liked the store but after several months with this new guy in charge, I realized all the changes and improvements he had made.  And more importantly, his excellent taste in choosing the stock.  So I told him so - that the place had always been good but that he had done great work refining everything.  It was the perfect compliment and it was perfectly delivered.  I don't think I had ever spoken to him at any length before (other customers are constantly talking to him and I figured he shouldn't have to entertain me, too) and I could tell by his reaction that he was floored by the compliment.  And then I left (I had this idea in my head - from an episode of Seinfeld - that it is best to leave on a high note).

Recently I went in to the store to browse and this fellow called me over to the counter and showed me two big boxes of pulps he had just picked up.  He told me to have a look at them before he priced them and put them out.  So I did.  This would be a great story if I had uncovered a cache of Westlakes and Starks (which are the primary things that I am interested in acquiring these days), but no such luck.  A lot of it was SF.  All in very good condition.  But none of it was very exciting to me.  For all I know I could've been passing up some real gems but, to use a phrase I can only write and not speak, I couldn't be arsed to keep going through all of it.  But I didn't want to appear ungrateful by not buying any of them.

And that's when I found these:

I don't think I have every read anything by Richard Matheson before.  And I don't know much about him - I just know he has this semi-mythic cult status for writing so much great stuff in many forms.  Like I Am Legend.  It would have been nice if there had been a copy of that because I am interesting in reading that now after 1500 pages of Justin Cronin in The Passage and The Twelve, and because of this.  But it looks as if two of these books have stories about vampires.

I also found a copy of George R.R. Martin's first (I think) book, a collection of stories called A Song for Lya.  After I read about GRRM in the New Yorker I thought I would give A Game of Thrones a try but I didn't make it five pages.  And I've seen about five minutes of it on HBO.  I want to like it but the subject matter triggers cringe-inducing flashbacks to endless hours playing Dungeons & Dragons in junior high school.  Can't even do Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.  But this Lya book seems different.

Rounding things out, I also got two by Fredric Brown:  Honeymoon in Hell and The Lights in the Sky Are Stars.


Louis XIV, "The Sun King" (Nick Jones) said...

That's the kind of secondhand bookstore encounter I dream of (well, that and a slightly saucier one, which I won't go into right now): being granted access to stock that's not been put out on shelves yet. You lucky, lucky bastard.

Book Glutton said...

There was once this pretty good used book store here that employed a drug addict. My friend would sometimes watch the store for the guy when he went out to go do whatever it is drug addicts do. So my friend would sit there and sift through all the incoming books while the guy was out and select all the best stuff for himself. A book parasite he was. MInd you - I found out about this this long after it had stopped. But my friend still has a killer collection.

The guy from my store is leaving to become a librarian. I hope somebody from the Lewes book world sees this and starts to take care of you.