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Vintage Books: Part II February 15, 2009

Posted by jeffclef in Uncategorized.
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Big Table 4, the Chicago based little magazine, featured the work of America’s avant-garde poets in the sixties: the Beats, the San Francisco Renaissance, the New York School, and the Black Mountain School.

For every mark of ownership is depressing. I imagine something awful must have occurred for someone to sell their books, books that were expressly dedicated to them. What if I’m holding in my hands the article of a person who just died last week? Or what if that person, or perhaps their children, sold that book, with its loving dedication, to pay the rent? And then I get home and realize that that this book is something that will never belong to me, because I was not born into this culture of preserving and collecting and handing down books. This is how V.S. Naipaul must have felt before writing “A House for Mr. Biswas.” After living all his life in the homes of relatives and reading so many used books about this wonderful place called London, Mr. Biswas, who will never have the chance to see London, is so desperate to own his own home that he uses his life savings to build a home he doesn’t have enough money finish. The irony of the novel is that a tar paper home that you can call your own is a small victory nonetheless, though it be in poorer shape than his books.

My online search for older editions of the classics, has produced mixed results.
You never know what your getting when you order something without seeing it first. No matter how promising the description sounds, very good means “average” and “good” means as clean as the walls of a toilet stall and as usable as the paper in it. The longer and more detailed the quality assurance, the better your chances of success, but you really need to read carefully. Library copies are okay, but not desirable. In any case, the excitement of ripping open a book package is now tainted by the uncertainty that the book you just bought is a dud. To be continued…

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