My bookshelves were getting all bulgy again after I culled them down during my move to the new apartment earlier this year. What better way to return to that streamlined look than to put a few books in a plastic bag and head for the Seoul Book Exchange in Itaewon?
9:30 am: I walked out the door. I had six books to swap. Except I wasn't going to swap, I was going to dump these and come home empty-handed. Maybe I would daintily select one from the proffered pile.
6 pm: Honey, I'm home. Oh, that's right, I'm not married anymore, so there's no one to see me upend the plastic bag and spill the contents onto the sofa. Nine books.
So much for streamlining.
Here's what I brought home, in no particular order:
1. Clock Without Hands - Carson McCullers. When I was a freshman or sophomore in college, I read a biography of Carson McCullers called (what else?) The Lonely Hunter. Then I reread it. Carson McCullers became one of my girl-crushes ever after. I thought about her constantly, imagining her days at Yaddo, drinking sherry from a thermos. In that first fervor of obsession, I tried to read everything of hers that I could get my hands on. I cut my bangs short. I tried sherry and discovered that I didn't like it too much. In the middle of all this adoration and being and becoming, I somehow neglected to read Clock Without Hands. I'm gonna fix that now.
2. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West - Stephen E. Ambrose. Something's missing from that subtitle. Clark! I was intrigued.
3. Cogan's Trade - George V. Higgins. I've really warmed up to crime fiction a lot in the past couple of years.
4. American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story - Cynthia True. A biography of the stand-up comedian who died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32. He was 5 days younger than I am, born on December 16, 1961. I can't help but feel a connection, however morbid it may be.
5. Satori - Don Winslow. A long, long time ago, I had a friend who had a boyfriend. I would tag along with her to his apartment and sit in the living room while they went off and did their own thing. Awkward. Strangely, I never thought to bring along something to read to while away the hours. Dude had no TV. No records or record player. To this day, I can't imagine why my friend was attracted to him. Luckily, he had a small library. One book: Shibumi, a 1979 spy novel by Trevanian. Not my type of reading, but I grabbed onto it as if it were a life raft and found myself engrossed. I've completely forgotten my friend's boyfriend's name, but I'll never forget Nicholai Hel. Satori doesn't seem to be a prequel or sequel, so I'm a little confused. Gotta give it a try, though. Guess I'm feeling sentimental.
6. Jackson Browne: His Life and Music - Mark Bego. Speaking of sentimental, when I was in high school, I wanted a boyfriend who looked and sounded just like Jackson Browne. I couldn't resist this book, but it's going to drive me crazy because it's got the same problem as that Kinky Friedman book I tried to read: blow-up quotes on every frickin' page! Why do publishers do that? Are these books for people who don't like to read, or they're too stoned to remember what they just read? I'm framing an irate email to Citadel Press, even as I type this.
7. The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence - Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks. There is no way in hell I'm ever going to read this book. Why did I bring it home???
8. Canadian Inventions: Fantastic Feats and Quirky Contraptions - Lisa Wojna. Finally, something with which to both taunt my Canadian friends while impressing them with my knowledge! My neighbors to the north invented some great things like insulin and basketball, but also some decidedly odd things like square bullets and a mechanical skirt lifter. From a cursory look at the back cover, poutine is considered to be in the "What were they thinking?" category, but I'm decidedly in favor of poutine, and will debate this with anyone -- preferably while chowing down on a plateful. Speaking of great ideas, Canadian author Lisa Wojna had one when she researched and wrote this book. I know I'm going to love it.
9. Black Swan Green - David Mitchell. I haven't read Cloud Atlas yet. I want to, but still feel too intimidated. I'll read this novel first, then I'll work my way back.