The local library system has a semiannual sale—the third weekends of April and October—every year, and it is generally absolutely fabulous. The selection is top notch, to guess, there is probably somewhere around 15,000 titles in any genre—both fiction and non-fiction—to choose from. They range from paperback to hardback to old library editions to mint condition copies. I always find a few treasures; often they are books I have been searching out, but more often they are little gems I know nothing about and get to explore without preconception and discover another great book and great writer.
This past weekend was the spring sale, and I did pretty damn well. My girl, her parents, and I made the pilgrimage to the city library and elbowed, cajoled and pushed our way into the always too narrow, too crowded aisles of books. The crowd is always a healthy one, and this year was no exception. One old woman banged through the aisles like a faltering old sow—mumbling and even yelling at anyone a little slow to remove themselves from her path. Then there was the wild haired man—the guy who is at every book sale I have ever been—who is transfixed and lost in some volume of history or physics or archaeology and chose to stand in the very spot I want to be. And I’m too damn polite to say excuse me and push my way into the section. Damn. There was probably the best, most elusive book I have ever wanted in that little spot.
A few of the titles I am most excited about—until I really dig into my new books and find the unknown treasures—are: Train by Pete Dexter. I have never read any of Dexter’s work, but I have heard nothing but praise. Wilderness by Robert B. Parker; Wilderness is one of the few early Parker novels not featuring Spenser. The Leader and the Damned by Colin Forbes; Forbes is a British writer I enjoyed as a teenager, and this is a title I had not only never before seen, I had never heard of. I hope it’s good.
I also found an autographed copy of an old paperback version of Tony Hillerman’s Dance Hall of the Dead. Yes, it really is autographed! I found several old Gold Medal editions of John D. MacDonald—Ballroom of the Skies, Dress Her in Indigo, and The Long Lavender Look. And as I was leaving, I quite literally stumbled over a Subterranean Press autographed edition of Peter Crowther’s collection of short stories, Songs of Leaving.
Not bad. I’ll let you know about the unknown treasures as I discover them.
How many weeks until October?