Saturday, December 1, 2007

Literary Update

Today I went to Powell's.

I used the morning hours to plan my attack at the city of books. I know that a list of books and authors isn't always preparation enough to tackle Powell's. So, I visited their website. I found each of the eight books I planned to purchase and cleverly located them in the proper Powell's room under the proper Powell's category. Once at the store I made very efficient use of my time with only the Roger Angell book being difficult to locate. But even it could not escape me and my Batman like detective skills.

Speaking of Batman. I owe the caped crusader some thanks. The 60's camp TV show was a staple of after-school viewing in my family. Stu and I would watch intently almost every day. I loved Batman. But when we would play act I never got to be Batman, rather I was Robin, the boy Wonder, and Stu donned the blue cape. But Batman's name was Bruce and he and I always had a connection that my brother and he never could. Cue evil laugh.

Bruce Wayne had a massive library at Wayne Manor. And within that library there was a bust of William Shakespeare. Stay with me here. Y'see, that bust's head was on a hinge and when lifted it would reveal the button that in turn revealed the batpoles behind the bookcases. Huge bookcases. So every afternoon as we were staring at the boob tube I was looking at the bard himself and staring at book, after book, after book.

My favorite book of all-time is my Riverside Shakespeare. It's the one enormous college text that I kept. It's not that I couldn't put it down or anything like that, it just feels like an important validation of my college experience. In some ways, it represents more to me than my diploma. In addition to being vital for anyone studying Shakespeare it is also a great desk, drafting table and doorstop. And it was Batman who introduced me to Shakespeare. Hence, the thanks.

I'm not the avid reader that I should be. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy great books. Even good books. But I have always had a difficult time making time for them. This has to change. In fact, if I'm going to tackle this literacy project it will change. I now have all nine of the books listed in the Literary thread from November. I bought all but Confederacy of Dunces as my housemate David had that on his shelf.

I've yet to decide which one to start with. How do you choose? Will one of the books take offense and shred the last of its pages so I never know the resolution? Jealousy could happen. I may just draw names from the hat. Fairer than a Presidential election if you ask me.

I bought the books today based almost entirely on price. While I prefer hardbound books they are vastly more expensive. Trade paperbacks are superior to a standard paperback so I did splurge a bit on The Floating Opera so I could have the more substantial heft. Paperbacks make me a bit sad, actually. There's just no way for a paperback to avoid having it's spine creased and curled. It instantly becomes damaged goods.

Some facts about the books:
Longest: 988 Pages, Pandora's Star
Shortest: 244 Pages, The Dharma Bums
Least expensive: $1.95, The Ginger Man
Most expensive: $24.95, The World Without Us
Oldest: 1955 The Ginger Man (also the oldest physical book-printed in 1979)
Newest: 2007 The World Without Us
Used: 6
New: 2
Not for sale in Canada: A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters

I love books. The feel of a book. The weight. Turning pages is such a satisfaction. They're all numbered. It gives you a reminder of your progress with every turn. I wish the feedback in some of my relationships was as clear. Yet, I know that every book has been at the sacrifice of a tree. It's the curse of the environmentalist. Every tree hugger I know makes huge sacrifices to live responsibly. But each of them loves books and has a massive library. Sort of like Batman. Ironic.

I also love Powell's. It's a bit crowded these days for my tastes, with a few too many of the self-absorbed wandering its stacks. But it is where the books are. The staff are very friendly and helpful. It just feels like Portland to me. I like that feeling. I also get a kick out of seeing people play with 'POD', the sculpture across Burnside. My friend, Pete Beeman, designed and built this massive thing of steel, springs and iron. It even has wheels. It's very shiny. Those are Pete's rules: Make it big. If you can't make it big make it shiny. If you can't make it shiny let it bleed. Or something like that. But I digress. The books.

So. Here we are. I am a bit intimidated by the pile, but I plan to start the first one on Monday during my lunch break. I'll try to keep you up to date on my progress. But not one page at a time.



Ralph said...

I direct tourists to powell's by telling them to look for "the devil's testicle" sculpture. I probably shall continue to do so.

Bruce said...

As you wish.

Lucas said...

I wish I'da known you were actually going to buy The Floating Opera, I have at least one extra copy for just that purpose (though it's a mass market paperback and you apparently turn your nose up at such things...I happen to love mm paperbacks, so let's just agree to disagree, shall we? *sniff*). Also I think you'll enjoy the second book in that edition, End of the Road, which was made into a cheeseball psychedelic movie starring Stacy Keach and James Earl Jones (I haven't seen it).

I never knew that thing was called POD. I thought its actual name was Devil's Testicle. I probably shall continue to do so.

Lucas said...

I almost forgot: another nice thing about Powell's is taking all your pretty new (and used) books across the street to Rocco's. New books, beer, slice. Rad.