Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sulking Bookworm

It's the old disease again. I want the book I don't have. This time, I want a book that's really old (1954), really expensive, and out-of-print. Grand slam!
Of course, since I have a slight (?) touch of bibliomania, I can't put the book (pictured below) out of my mind. Picture Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings rasping endlessly about "The Precious", and you'll have a fair idea of life here for the past few days. I pity the people who know me. They're envious of the ones who will never meet me. Manfred, Jr. looks haggard for his 22 years and seems ready to flee.
This particular episode began when I was reviewing my wishlist on amazon. Coming across an item that had been on the list for a few months, Ghosty Men, I decided to go to Wikipedia and read up on the Collyer brothers. The article there is quite detailed, and listed a novel based on this case: My Brother's Keeper. I clicked on the link and saw this really gorgeously campy cover and felt the subtle stirrings of the biblio-barbarian within me.
Heading back to Amazon, I discovered that the book was out-of-print, but there were 28 reviews posted. Read all together, they are a veritable chorus that raves about the book and begs any publisher that might be reading their reviews to please, please reissue this book. By the time I got to the 28th review, that was all she wrote. The whole enchilada. With One-Click at the ready, I would have a used copy of the book in ten days to three weeks...
Or not! Used copies start out at over $32.00. That's for an "acceptable" copy, which means that it probably looks terrible. Prices went up from there all the way to $300.00 for a "Collectible" copy. My mouth watered at the description of the dustjacket and binding on that one. Well, I do want My Brother's Keeper, but not for that much.
Leaving that site and doing more research, I saw that the book was put into a Reader's Digest Condensed Books version in 1955. Yes, you see correctly. I have colored that series title with my 10-foot-pole category color. A book should never be condensed. Soup, yes. Some of my whining in this and other blog entries, sure. But a book? No. Never. I wouldn't even do something like that to Atlas Shrugged.
I should confess that since RDCB are already an established evil on this planet, I have paged through them from time to time, treating the condensed books within as appetizers of what I might like to later experience as full-course meals.
(There was also a sort of primal experience with an RDCB when I was pregnant with Manfred, Jr., but that's another blog entry...)
When I start sniveling too much, Caitlin usually suggests that I check out Bookcrossing. I took her advice. Joy! One copy was marked "available". I hurriedly pm'ed the owner, shamelessly begging and tempting her(?) with Digging To America. No joy. She had released the book and forgotten to document it on the site, but even if she still had the book, she probably wouldn't send it because mail between Australia and South Korea was so expensive, and this copy was a hardcover, an ex-library copy.
OK, so now I'm back to moodily scrolling through lists at abebooks and amazon. I want the book, but what if I shell out mucho dinero and read the book and hate it? I can afford to take the hit, but I don't want to. Yet. I can't give in to these wild biblio-cravings all the time, can I?
Damn. Forget the holidays; this is what makes me homesick: I miss the library. Manfred, Jr. did some searching of his own and saw that My Brother's Keeper is available at 998 libraries in the United States. Thanks, kid.
If I could be a superhero, I think I'd want to be Mr. Fantastic. Then, I could just stretch my right arm out halfway around the world and into a carefully chosen library, pluck the book from the shelf, whisk it past the circulation desk and back to Korea. Then, when I had finished, I could do it all again in reverse.


lazy cow said...

I'll look out for this for you on my many op shop and 2nd hand bookstore trawls.

Literary Feline said...

I hate it when that happens! I've been fortunate that many of the older books I've wanted have been available on amazon or even, but sometimes I have no luck at all and that is frustrating.

I'll keep my eye out for this book too. Maybe one of us can find it for you.

Les said...

Hmm, there's a copy at our downtown library. I wonder how much they'd charge if it was "accidentally" lost?

kookie said...


HA! That's funny. I have to admit that book cover has stirred my retro-loving heart. Look what you started.

joemmama said...

Check out Alibris website. They have 40 copies available in varying conditions from 29.95 and up. Some don't sound too bad.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear - I can certainly relate. I think every bibliophile has at least one of those books!

Since you've already tried BookCrossing, have you checked any of the other booktrading sites (Paperback Swap, BookMooch, Title Trader, etc.) or ebay? Good luck in your quest!

Anonymous said...

I shelled out mucho dinero for a book by one of William Faulkner's brothers that had a very similar look to the one you're pining over. I love those pulp fiction covers! Aren't they great?

Speakingn of, this place ( ) sells the greatest pulp fiction postcards on earth.I so need to buy some from them. They'd look great on my desk at the library (if they don't get me fired...).

Bybee said...

LC, If it's to be found in your part of Australia, I know you'll uncover it. Thanks for looking.

Literary Feline, Glad I'm not the only one...makes me feel less crazy.

Les, Don't become a library outlaw because I didn't have the foresight to check out The Library Situation before moving to Asia.

Kookiejar, Yeah, I love that cover. That's what sealed my doom. If (!?) I weaken, that's the edition I'll buy.

Joemmama, I checked out alibris...still too rich for my blood...but I'm weakening.

Lesley, I haven't been to those places yet, but I'll leave no stone unturned.

Lisa, Naturally, I want to be nosy and ask exactly how much money you shelled out, but I'll refrain. My record is about 85 bucks for a first edition Franklin Library autographed copy of Rabbit, Run by John Updike. It's a beautiful thing.

Sycorax Pine said...

Oh my goodness - I have caught the bug from you and now I must read this book! What a delightful cover. Off to the library...