Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Visit To Pablo's

It could have been my haunted, hungry look or my habit of reading in the conference room, but Pablo, my co-worker, took pity on me and invited me over to his apartment last week to look at his books.

You know the way Homer Simpson drools uncontrollably and makes that slightly unpleasant gurgling noise when he sees donuts or Duff Beer? Well, that was me in front of Pablo's well-stocked bookshelves. He's got so many books, they're double-shelved! (Okay, I can't help drooling at the memory, but I will try to keep the noise level down.)

Pablo's wicked in that way that bookwormy types like myself dream about. Not only did he let me browse his shelves, but he brought out book after book after book (no, I'm not exaggerating!) and if I hadn't read it, he'd give me a thumbnail sketch/recommendation. My book lust is a perpetual flame, but at Pablo's, it was an inferno.

"Can I borrow this one? How about this one?" I kept asking. Pablo replied with one of the sweetest phrases in the English language: "Take all you want."

Well, I didn't take all I wanted, because of course then Pablo's shelves would've been naked, and that wouldn't have been nice. Gotta admit though, it was difficult to soft-pedal the the biblio-barbarian inside, because she was right near the surface!

I was going to write that I came away with a shitload of books, but I'm not sure what constitutes a "shitload". Finally, I decided that a shitload would be so many that I had difficulty carrying them all back to my apartment. Reader, I came away with a semi-shitload. Ten books. A nice assortment of fiction and nonfiction:

FIVE GREAT NOVELS OF JAMES M. CAIN
CLOSE RANGE: THE WYOMING STORIES by Annie Proulx
THE GRASS ARENA by John Healy
I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE by Wally Lamb
TEACH YOURSELF VISUALLY WINDOWS XP
THE SORROWS OF WAR (this is a novel about Vietnam)
THE GRANTA BOOK OF THE FAMILY (literary essays, short stories)
INTO THIN AIR by Jon Krakauer
[a short memoir by a russian guy]

Crap. I can't remember the tenth one.
I hate when that happens.
I do remember clearly the biography of Patrick White that made my head swivel like the light atop a squad car, though.

So, anyway, I got back to the apartment and spread all the books out on the bed and looked at them, smiling. Then after a while, I got in bed. That night, I slept on one side and the books were neatly stacked up on the other side. When I woke up the next morning, there they were.

And there I was.

Would you believe I was in "Ray Milland-Lost Weekend" mode? I got up and took the train to Daegu, and somehow found my feet walking into the bookstore and getting on the escalator to the second floor where the English-language books live. There was an incessant drumming in my ears that sounded a lot like "the books, the books, THE BOOKS!" and to subdue it, I bought three books: THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB, THE GEOGRAPHY OF THOUGHT, and IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY. I heroically restrained myself from buying a copy of SIDEWAYS, which is the novel based on the hit indie movie starring Paul Giamatti.
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Rationales for buying each book:

THE GEOGRAPHY OF THOUGHT - I'd had it in my hands when I visited the bookstore in mid-March and put it back in favor of THE KILLER ANGELS. When I returned a couple of weeks later, the book was gone. So here it was again, after all these weeks. What was I supposed to do? Put it back and let it disappear again? I don't think so!!!

IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY - I'm working my way through the Bill Bryson canon this year.

THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB - It was the first time I'd seen that novel in paperback. Other than that, I have no rationale. I don't even remember a rational thought. I do remember my brain growling something like "C'mere, you!" and then it was in my hand.
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I left the bookstore, the 3 new books securely tucked in my backpack. Then, feeling a bit like Godzilla on a mad rampage, I went in search of *another* bookstore that Pablo had mentioned, farther down the street. I wandered and looked around for a while, but then movie lust took over (and that's another blog, or could be) and I half-reluctantly trudged back towards the theater.

When I saw Pablo on Tuesday, I gave him back THE GRASS ARENA which I polished off in three days, and he told me that he was starting to read my copy of Bill Bryson's NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND and he'd also read a book of his own called A HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE. "You've got me reading again!" he remarked. Well damn it, Pablo, why should I be the only literary lunatic around here?

Edited to add: The 10th book that I borrowed from Pablo was SURELY YOU'RE JOKING, MR. FEYNMAN! by Richard Feynman.

3 comments:

Daldianus said...

Hi, may I just suggest a thing to you?

Try taking a smaller font. It's much more readable! :)

Heather said...

I loved In A Sunburned Country!

Bybee said...

Daldianus,
Thanks for your advice. Hope this new font/layout works better!