Saturday, March 20, 2004

Garage Sale

First day of spring, and I went to my first garage sale of the year today. I hit a sale that promised "100s of books". "Yeah, right," I thought. But when Manfred, Jr. and I finally found it, there were a good number of books. Problem: Most of them turned out to be stuff that I really don't like. There was a ton of bestseller fiction. Spy novels. Mysteries. Romances. Westerns. A lot of it looked really ratty and had $1.00 price tags. I wanted a Stephen King book, DIFFERENT SEASONS. There were 2 copies. One was bent and grubby looking and the other had toothmarks on the lower spine. I'd prefer not to think such thoughts at all, but I suspect the mice had been at or around these books. I passed.

I found a small, hardbound copy of the Steinbeck book OF MICE AND MEN for 25 cents. That was nice. Another pleasant discovery was a respectable copy of GONE WITH THE WIND nestled in with beaucoup copies of the wretched SCARLETT: THE SEQUEL TO GONE WITH THE WIND. I grabbed it up protectively. Yet another nice little potential treasure was something Manfred, Jr. pointed out to me: a copy of the screenplay for the film SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. It was nice, but I didn't want it for $2.25. I think I'll probably regret not buying it later. It seemed a shame to leave it behind in all that dreck.

I'm getting to the point where the only book sale that remotely pleases me is the annual Sigma Tau Delta (the English honor society) book sale at Central Missouri State University. Even that's not as great as it could be. One year, I donated some of my excellent books, leaving them in the English faculty's lounge. Not ten minutes later, an Engish prof sashays in, thumbs through the donations pile, picks up my just-barely-former books, and traipses back down the hall to his office. Brazen! I guess his book lust just got the better of him. Also, I'm sure that my nice, clean copies with the pristine spines soothed his fastidious mind and orgasmically rocked his literary world. At least for a while.

If I could design my own book sale, which is what I was doing in my head last night prior to sleep, I'd ban nearly all of that genre crap where the author's name is bigger than the title. Stephen King and Larry McMurtry are the exceptions to that ban. No romances of any kind. A smattering of "chick lit" (acutally, that form's not showing up much at garage sales yet). Westerns? Mysteries? ONE TABLE AT THE VERY BACK. And: Absolutely no READER'S DIGEST CONDENSED BOOKS!

I need to pause and give credit where it's due: No matter how disappointed I was in today's sale, there were no READER'S DIGEST CONDENSED BOOKS to offend my eye. Why do I keep going to these sales and courting disillusionment? I guess I'm expecting to find the literary treasure of my heart.

Here's my fantasy: I'll push aside a stack of Robert Ludlum novels and FARENHEIT 451 will be revealed. Or perhaps the mainstream novels of Philip K. Dick. Or best of all, some biographies. Why do I hardly ever see biographies at book sales, unless it's a biography of Hansen?

It already feels like a long season, but I must trust it. Any given Saturday will probably find me hunched over a card table in someone's yard, pinching through the Louis L'amour looking for "the precious". I can't help it; it's where I belong. Fish gotta swim; birds gotta fly.

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