Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Book lies

Normally we lie about books boasting about those we've read when we haven't, but I have to confess about a little white lie earlier about not bringing any books with me to America.

I meant it at the time, but at the last minute I just couldn't do it. I pushed a collection of Lydia Davis's wonderfully anarchic stories into my case at home, and then at the airport, surrendered to David Sedaris's new book. (I shouldn't have done. I was bored with it after the first page and ended up leaving it behind.)

However, at Minneapolis I'm more than making up for any lack - Anne Carson, Amy Bloom, Rebecca Solnit etc etc etc. I know you can buy a lot of these authors in the UK, but I LOVE the feel and look of American books. There are some great bookshops here. (I'd like to show some photographs but my camera's broken - in one secondhand shop, I thought there was no one working there until I turned round one back shelf and found a man lying on a day bed, reading. He lazily waved a hand at me, and I thought, oh yay, Oscar Wilde lives. Later I asked him if he knew of a bank near here and he said he had no idea as he had never had much time for banks. Perfect. I'm imagining a velvet purse full of gold coins.) Anyway, I've packed my suitcase full of books and magazines and am now struggling to choose ones to read on the plane. I want to keep all of them close.

Perhaps best of all though are the literary and psychology magazines - Paris Review, Harpers, American Scientific Mind, Poets and Writers. I couldn't even wait until I was out of the shop to start reading, but had to go to the cafe to start flicking through them. I was in good company. At the next table there was a group of women in their twenties I started talking to. They each had a HUGE pile of magazines in front of them, and it turned out they were the Lazy Girls Magazine Club - Minneapolis Chapter. They meet once a month in the cafe, take a huge pile of magazines off the shelves and just read through them, sharing articles they find interesting. I like the cheek of it but I'm also a bit shocked - one of the joys of buying magazines for me is being the first person to read it, the sharpness of turning each page. And I know I couldn't resist my normal magazine reading habit which is tearing out the pages I find interesting or know I will want to read again.

Mind you, I tried this with Poets and Writers but ended up tearing the whole magazine out. Hmm. I think it's time to splash out on a subscription. At least I'd bought my own copy!

9 comments:

Tania Hershman said...

I cannot imagine going on holiday with no book - just the plane flight alone would cause me palpitation if I was book-less, so am very glad you didn't! I love buying books in America too, they have the best bookshops, it's like sweetshops, so many colours, so much temptation... and in the cafes too. Mmmm, yummy. A subscription to P&W is really worth it, by the way. I am a big fan, it's my dream to get my name in there someday - without having to place an ad and pay for it!

Sarah Salway said...

Oh Tania - wouldn't it be cool to be in P&W...

Alex said...

I read Solnit's Field Guide to Getting Lost this summer. Some good bits, but overall I thought it was disappointingly autobiographical and too, well, lah-de-dah. And on the subject of Americans, I also read Housekeeping after loving Gilead. Also found it disappointing. Ditto Winter In Madrid. Ditto The Wild Sheep Chase. In fact if it hadn't been for Anthony Powell's From A View To A Death (and The Princess Bride, though again patchy), it would all have been a bit sad.

Alex said...

Forgot to mention a big thumbs up to Charlie Brooker's Dawn of the Dumb collection.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

What a character study! (the guy in the shop...) Id love to know whohe was, and how he got to this point, and where he's going with all those WORDS in his head, no banks... maybe he uses words as 'money' like wampum. Endless, isnt it!

And Ive been known to not take books away then rush back into the house at the last minute. or wander like a lost lamb in airport W H Smiths to find something to read. MInd you, Ive discovered some good books that way. I think....

Sarah Salway said...

That's interesting, Alex. I haven't read that one yet - was given it as a present at the circus as I hadn't heard of her before. Am LOVING Wanderlust though. Housekeeping is one of my favourite ever books, I found Gilead a bit precious. Housekeeping is a great film, btw. Have you seen it?

Sarah Salway said...

Hah, Vanessa - I love that idea of words as money. THere's a Martin Amis short story it reminds me of where the poets are the ones that fly first class etc etc, while the businessmen travel economy.

Alex said...

Nope, not seen the film. And I'm afraid having read the book it doesn't appeal much. At the risk of being horribly sexist, I wonder if it's a book for ladies rather than gentlemen?

aoc gold said...

What does the bee do?

Bring home honey.

And what does Father do?

Bring home money.

And what does Mother do?

Lay out the money.

And what does baby do?

Eat up the honey.

--------- by Age Of Conan gold