Monday, February 04, 2008

A Weekend That Spilled Over Into Monday...Nothing Wrong With That!

I'm a firm believer in getting the bad stuff out of the way first. Today, on the train back from Seoul, my seatmate, a nice-looking 30ish Korean man, wearing a dark business suit was reading The Secret. In Korean. Sad but true. That book is a bestseller over here, as well. I was reading Housekeeping vs. The Dirt and fretfully wishing for a magnifying glass. I silently did a quick little "Great Monday Compare" between my book and his. No matter how you slice it -- I win! Nyah, nyah.

I'll do a blog entry about BOOKLEAVES in the next few days. I took some pictures the old-fashioned way, with a disposable camera [It pains me to admit this! Why don't I just buy a digital camera and have CanadaBoy show me how to use it?] and I need to have the film developed and put on a CD. I'm hoping the pictures came out well...and that I don't look too much like a hag compared to my fellow expat booklovers. Didn't know I had that vain streak, did you, huh? In my defense, you'd worry too, if you were in a bookgroup where everyone else was born during the Carter or Reagan administrations. Speaking of CanadaBoy, he made a cameo appearance at book group via text message.

A weekend in Seoul wouldn't ring true without a little side trip to What The Book? of course. OK, let me be perfectly honest: TWO side trips. Aaron wanted to go after book group on Sunday afternoon, and Bernadette and her boyfriend wanted to see what it was like in there. I had just been there Saturday night, but I was definitely up for another sashay around the shelves.

Here's what sashayed off the shelves, up to the cash register, into my bag, out of the store and home with me:

1. Villette - Charlotte Bronte. [Okay, now I've got all the books I need to take up my Bronte Challenge again. It's only been a year since I experienced Shirley, but I think I'm recovered and rested up now.]

2. Cannery Row - John Steinbeck. [I found this when I went back with Aaron and Bernadette. Big score! I've been circling the Steinbeck for months, waiting. WTB? has Sweet Thursday, the sequel, but my inner Rigid Completist Bookworm has to read Cannery Row first. I didn't ask them to order it; I just waited for it to appear. I can do that --be patient about a book -- sometimes.]

3. An Angel At My Table: An Autobiography Vol. 2 - Janet Frame. [I've been sort of peripherally aware of this New Zealand writer for several years. The aforementioned inner Rigid Completist Bookworm doesn't like the thought of starting with volume 2. I told her to shut the hell up, but truth be told, I'm sort of itchy to find volume one.]

4. Korea - Lonely Planet. [The latest edition is out, and none too soon. My other copies are in rotten shape from constant reference. Plus, I tore the Seoul subway maps out of both of them.]

5. The Disappointment Artist - Jonathan Lethem. [Nick Hornby AKA my hot lit-crush, spoke well of Lethem's The Fortress Of Solitude in The Polysyllabic Spree. I might be remembering incorrectly, but I think my hot girl-lit-crush, Nancy Pearl, also spoke well of him in Book Lust. So I've had "Lethem, Lethem, Lethem" buzzing in my mind's ear for a few weeks now. Happily, What The Book has several of his novels. I had almost decided on As She Climbed Across The Table when I decided to give Lethem's book of essays The Disappointment Artist a cursory glance. Looked good, real good. Suddenly, the beginning of the title essay snagged my eye. He mentions his Aunt Billie in Kansas City, who was children's author Wilma Yeo! I was freaking out. (Quietly, which is so difficult.) You know that "six degrees of separation" stuff? Jonathan Lethem and I have those 6 degrees going on!!! Wilma Yeo was his father's oldest sister. She married Jack Yeo in 1938. My great-great Aunt Lou's husband was either a brother or nephew to Jack Yeo -- I put in a nearly-incoherent international phone call to my mother late last night, and she is double-checking with my 90-year-old grandmother about the relationship. My grandmother had told me long ago that I was kinda-sorta related to a writer; she knew I'd be thrilled since writers have always been my rock stars. I really wanted to meet Wilma Yeo, but until just a few years ago, I worried overmuch about "imposing on people". Sad. Stupid. From what I've heard over the years, Wilma Yeo was generous with her time and attention. She died in 1994, so I missed my chance. I did read and enjoy The Mystery Of The Third Twin, though. Anyway, back to the Lethem book: after seeing the essay about Philip K. Dick, I was 98% sure I'd buy The Disappointment Artist, but once I saw our Wilma Yeo connection, I was hellbound if I was going to leave that store without that book!]

The weekend was not all book-related, however; I glutted myself on English-language television channels like CNN and AFN. I don't have cable in Gumi, so I enjoyed show after show after show until the wee small hours of the morning. You know you're television-deprived when you're so damn happy to see Dr. Phil and you hang on his every word even when he's being a pontificating ass! I also watched the Super Bowl this morning until halftime, when hunger struck and I checked out of the hotel and went over to Quizno's for a(nother) Italian sub. It wasn't until I got back to Gumi hours later that I found out about the Giants' upset victory. No joy in Mudville for Mr. Bybee and his brother. On the bright side, now that football is finished, it's just a matter of weeks until the baseball season starts and my beloved Cardinals have a chance to redeem themselves and make me forget 2007.

If you catch any spelling errors in this post, it's Blogger's fault. Now my secret is out: I'm naked without spellcheck.


raidergirl3 said...

I never did find a magnifying glass to read that line. Must remember to check that when I get home.
The spellcheck is a problem everywhere? I thought it was just me.
Great pile of books you got, and six degrees of awesome for you.
Have a great week

Jeane said...

How is Housekeeping vs the Dirt? I'm dying to read it. What's the magnifying glass for? am I missing something??

Anonymous said...

I was only reading yesterday that Penguin have announced their intention to start printing their classics range in Korean, so very soon there won't be any excuse for voluntarily reading 'the secret'! :D

I'm very excited to see that you've got a copy of 'An angel at my Table'! Janet Frame's three part autobiography is a heartbreakingly beautiful read, which I throughly throughly recommend! Though, whilst it's not essential, if you can, I'd read it in sequence!

I think Vol. 1 'To the Is-land' is my personal favourite. I don't know how difficult it is for you to get Vol. 1? In Australia her autobigraphical books are largely out of print, but if you have any trouble I see it all the time in second hand bookstores here, and am happy to help get a copy to you! :D

Bybee said...

I like Tom Petty, but I don't really see him as a Super Bowl halftime act. It's funny how they've swung so far the other way since that "wardrobe malfunction" a few years ago!

I held the book up to the train window and made out the line. It'll be a long time before I eat another breakfast burrito.

Housekeeping vs. The Dirt was wonderful. I plan to praise it and Nick himself more in detail in a future blog post. Uh, the magnifying glass: Nick read a biography of Motley Crue and there was an anecdote of fascination and repulsion for Mr. Hornby that was in such poor taste that he had it printed in fairy-sized type.

I found An Angel At My Table secondhand. I'd be happy to have the other volumes, if we could do a swap...would you like something related to Korea? My email's in my profile...let's chat!

kookie said...

Thank goodness I'm not the only one with spellcheck problems!

BTW, you could have been reading a Jughead comic book and you'd still beat the guy reading "The Secret". :D

Eva said...

When I was in St. Petersburg, about a month and a half in we went to Moscow on a long weekend trip. Our hotel had CNN international in English and, although I usually *hate* TV news, I was just addicted! If I was in the room, it had to be on, just so I could hear English, lol.

Kathy said...

I was hoping you wouldn't be able to make out the line you needed a magnifying glass for. I wished I'd not found mine!

Bybee said...

I like Jughead; he doesn't make me wanna gouge my eyes out like The Secret does. The only thing that would've truly made it a contest was if I was reading Skinny Bitch.

Yeah, that's how I felt -- like I was bathing my ears in English!

I mentioned the title of the Motley Crue book to CanadaBoy and he lit up like a Christmas tree.
CanadaBoy: (excitedly) Oh yeah, Neal read that book and was telling me all kindsa nasty shit from it!"
Bybee: Uh, did he tell about uh...the uh, burrito?"
CanadaBoy: I don't remember, but don't remind me. I wanna read this book myself!

Susan said...

I love all the reasons you bought your books! You always make me laugh out loud. And I can't believe the Secret is in Korean! that sucks, how is it crappy books get translated and great books languish in dark corners unread?? I still have to get a copy of Housekeeping vs Dirt, but i've been buying so many books lately that I promised I wouldn't buy any more this month after my spree this morning (I went out for 2 and came back with 5). so I'll have to wait until March, and then let you know......and have you found out about your six degrees yet? That is cool, especially as you liked her work, but not so great that she is gone now before you can say hi.
Anyway, thanks for dropping into my blog, I thought I'd let you now I read you regularly and yes, we have a great name! :-)
Oh, I have to agree that reading Archie and Jughead ranks way higher than the Secret....even a Mills & Boon romance from England is better! (Apparently they sell every few seconds in England right now, a thought too depressing to contemplate really.)

Bybee said...

Susan: Re The Secret in Korean: It's the exact same cover. In a way, I'm not surprised that the book made it over here -- Koreans are like Americans in the sense that we want the secret to happiness and we want it right this minute, all in one neat package. The only difference is that Koreans are more impatient!

Re your buying spree: I know you're trying to rein it in, but I can't help giving you a virtual high-five.