New used books that is. So, as you see, I went book shopping yesterday. The splurge was planned and very much enjoyed, and it is a generous pile, but I actually did put some books back (including two I couldn't quite remember if I owned, which I do, so am happy I didn't duplicate myself). I've not been to a real bricks and mortar bookstore for ages, so it was long overdue. In this case I stopped by my favorite (independently owned by the way) used bookstore, which has an amazing selection of good, used literary fiction (among other sorts of books). I went looking for Viragos (found four as a matter of fact but two I already own) and whatever else caught my eye. In this case, short stories and shorter fiction seemed to be the theme of the day.
From top to bottom:
I am Mary Dunne by Brian Moore -- I read Moore's The Magician's Wife quite a while ago so have little recollection of what it was about exactly, but I have this feeling that when I read Moore now as a slightly more mature reader that he is going to become one of my 'great finds' of the year. "For each of her three husbands Mary had assumed a different personality. It was hardly surprising that, at the first signs of strain in her current marriage, she began to wonder who she really was. One morning she forgot her name at the hairdresser's, and from then on the bizarre events of the day took her further and further into a crisis of identity."
The Wish to Kill by Janet Hannah -- I love Soho Crime books, but I don't think I've ever come across this author or this series of mysteries featuring Alex Kertész as sleuth. He is actually a biochemist at the University of Jerusalem. At least it seems to be a first in the series of books (three from what I can tell) and now out of print.
Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin -- I need to read more contemporary literature by American women authors, and I am hoping to have the same sort of luck with Laurie Colwin as I did with Alice McDermott. "This delightful comedy of manners and morals is about romantic love--about four people who are goodhearted and sane, lucky and gifted, and who find one another." I like the sound of a happy story.
Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane --I seem to be drawn to Irish authors or stories about Irish families at the moment. How did I never hear of Seamus Deane? "Set in postwar Northern Ireland where unquiet ghosts of the Troubles walk alongside the warriors and changelings of Celtic legend, Seamus Deane's first novel is the transfixing story of a boy trying to uncover the secrets of the adult world." The NYTBR blurb on the book reads, "the intimacy of a memoir . . . the suspense of a detective story . . . A novel suffused with magical loveliness."
Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard -- This is subtitled "Expeditions and Encounters" and is a collection of nature writings. As I am contemplating getting back to reading about nature (the desire for spring is strong, but the weather just won't cooperate--reading about nature is the next best thing).
A Scrap of Time by Ida Fink -- I read Fink's The Journey in my pre-blogging days (again another case of having only the vaguest recollection of the story), and was pleased to come across this collection of stories by her. They are translated from Polish (bonus--I don't think I've read many books translated from Polish). "A Scrap of Time is a haunting collection of stories about life in Poland during World War II. Based on authentic experiences, many autobiographical, these shattering stories, told in a whisper, have more than the force of eyewitness accounts."
Park City by Ann Beattie -- "For more than twenty-five years, Ann Beattie's short fiction has held a mirror up to America, portraying its awkwardly welded families, its loosely coupled couples, and much-uprooted children with acuity, humor, and compassion." This is a collection of 36 stories including eight which have not appeared in book format previously. I believe she is supposed to be another excellent short story writer and I look forward to finally reading her.
The Ladies from St. Petersburg by Nina Barberova -- This is a collection of three novellas about the beginning of the Russian Revolution. "Writing with a resonating clarity, unsentimental yet full of human sympathy, Nina Berberova stands as one of the treasures of twentieth-century literature and the continuance of the great Russian tradition."
The Brimming Cup by Dorothy Canfield Fisher -- Yay, a pristine Virago (two! See below). I've yet to read DCF but am very keen to do so. She is also a Persephone author. "First published in 1919 this intuitive novel explores the emotional turmoil one woman faces as she struggles to resurrect her own identity."
Saraband by Eliot Bliss -- Another new to me author. "First published in 1931, this beautiful, atmospheric novel, like Antonia White's Frost in May quartet, charts the emotional and intellectual growth of a young girl."
You just need an occasional bookish indulgence now and then don't you, and I needed one yesterday. The bookstore owner saw me with my pile and jokingly asked 'a little reading for the storm', which elicited a guffaw from me as today and into tomorrow we are being slammed with up to a foot of snow. I guess when I thought--how happy for me that the storm the Northeast had to deal with last week passed us by, well, now we're getting ours. To add insult to injury we are due yet more snow Sunday into Monday. Fingers crossed (cross yours too, please) that I may just get a snow day out of all the snow (if it's going to snow that much I think the least that can happen is a day off, right?).
Now the question is whether to start one of these books now (more indulgence) or remain strong and keep focusing on my books in progress.