Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Retail Therapy, With Books

It had been a pretty busy past two weeks and it didn't help that I was poor as a country mouse (er, cat) for most of the time. So when I finally got my pay last week, I couldn't help but treat myself.

It may be hard to imagine someone shopping for books but it can be done. Usually, I target the second-hand bookshops when I'm careful with my money and just buy the essential book at Booktopia. However, if I have the dough, then it's on to the top 2 bookshops in the city, which is Powerbooks and Fully-Booked.

Alas, despite the fact that I could have gone on a splurge on a number of mass paperbacks-- hardbounds are still way expensive here-- I was limited to two still-too-expensive trade paperbacks: one each at Powerbooks and Fully-Booked. But I was happy enough my choices, due to the fact that the "newest big thing," Scott Lynch's opus*, had come out here and I couldn't not get that. Likewise, Steven Erikson's latest Malazan chapter had also become available and his books are one of the best stuff in epic fantasy nowadays.

During the weekend, I managed to pick up a couple of pocketbooks and a collected TPB of JG Ballard's short stories at the secondhand bookshop Books for Less. I've been eyeing the Ballard for quite a bit and since no one had picked it up for almost two months now, I thought it was meant for me. *wry grin*

Thus, some of the stuff I picked up last week were:

Not a bad haul to pick up the depressed bookbound spirit, yes?

*I first encountered Lynch at the earliest incarnations of gabe chouinard's deadcities forum so it's nice to know that his work (a fantastical Ocean's 11 in an alternate-history Renaissance-type city) has finally been published. The hype on this book has been so big, there are even reports that a movie may be possibly made.


Der Fuhrer said...

waah..sobrang sarap bumili ng books!!!!

BTW, I found a Charles de Lint books (the Ivory and The Horn) for Php70 at Book Sale!! Yay me!!!

banzai cat said...

Uy, that's a good short collection ni de Lint. If you find any of his other stuff, they're always a good buy. :-)

Eldritch00 said...

OH MY GOD. A Ballard collection! *green with envy*

banzai cat said...

Heh. Though it's only the best of collection and not a compleat one. That one, I think, might run to Bradbury-ian lengths.

Also not as pretty as Harlan Ellison's best of hardbound. ;-)

skinnyblackcladdink said...

i envy the fact that you're reading tons... lately i've been slacking. haven't even gotten halfway through Vellum...

a lot of it has to do with a thoroughly jaded pallet (still looking for the next Gormenghast, Veniss or City of Saints and Madmen, and neither Vellum nor The Etched City seem to be cutting it for me)

banzai cat said...

You didn't like Vellum? Loved that book though mebbe that's because reading it was like trying to catch fish on the mudflats. Damn Hal Duncan was slippery than an eel. On the other hand, have a copy of Peake's opus but haven't read it. It's damn massive and quite forbiddding.

And I have to keep reading; otherwise, my to-read pile is going to bury me alive! :-O

P.S. Have you ever tried Harlan Ellison?

Eldritch00 said...

Ballard: I think I have two or three stories of his from various anthologies. I really can't believe I missed out on the "complete collection" back when I first saw it. Damn being broke.

Ellison: Which hardbound collection are you talking about? Which one do you have? I think I'll spend the (remaining) weekend going through the final stories in I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream. Maybe.

Peake: I have the omnibus too, with the essays appended to it. Like you, I find myself daunted at the thought of reading it. I have started it a year or so ago and managed around sixty pages but unfortunately had to put it down for work-related matters. I'm going to have to start over, but that's okay: it's THAT kind of book.

You mentioned elsewhere "too many books, too little money," and I have to agree. The sucky thing is that I can't appreciate "instant" retail therapy, because though there are titles sold here that catch my eye, most of my dying-to-get volumes have to be ordered online.

skinnyblackcladdink said...


sorry, i always get a little too excited when it comes to the Titus Groan books (a.k.a. the Gormenghast Trilogy).

every writer, imho, should at least read a sample of Mervyn Peake's work on the Titus Groan books, although you really have to take in everything, because the last book is an amazing twist... a lot of people take it badly, but i think the last book is "fooking brilliant" as Mr Duncan would say.

there are times when i love getting lost in Vellum (i'm still reading it, btw), but it gets tiring the way Mr Duncan keeps re-writing a scene in different contexts of time and space. i know that's part of the point, but after the third triplication of an event, you're kinda like, yeah, yeah, i get the picture... get on with it!

a lot of you will hate Mr Peake for his wordiness, and his rambling and yet apparently uncomplicated plot and two-dimensional characters, but if you pay attention, his lengthy descriptions are surprisingly to-the-point concise, only that the images he creates are starkly brilliant and razor-sharp, and the plot, for all its rambling and apparent simplicity, unfolds much like events in life, and the characters only appear two-dimensional because they are grotesques, and while Mr Peake goes to some length describing their thoughts and actions, he leaves much that is implied.

read the books. then tell me how and why you hated it.

if you find out you love them as much as i do, so much the better, come back and tell me about that, too.

either way, Mr Peake's books need to be read.

banzai cat said...

eldritch: Wow. There was a Ballard complete collection? That would have been a sight to see.

As for Ellison, am referring to the Essential Ellison. It's not a complete but at least it has all his best (including I have no mouth and Deathbird). Of course I figure any Ellison is a good buy, since his essay pieces (intro to his stories) are also good reading.

Heh. All three-- Ellison, Bradbury, and Ballard-- are so prolific, their best 100 stories probably run to dictionary-sizes books.

On retail therapy, ahhh, don't talk to me about ordering. I've already received my latest shipment and I can't help but consider what to order next. It's a damn addiction, I tell you.

sbc: Hehe wow a true-blue fan of Mervyn Peake. Though I haven't read his book, I can appreciate what he's done. I laud you for your taste (and effort in managing to finish the thing). Is your copy the Tusk edition? I've noticed that they have new editions in NBS and Fully-Booked nowadays. Good to know they're out there for a new generation to read.

As for Duncan, yeah, he does that wash, rinse, repeat thing a bit too often. I know what you mean about getting tired. However, when I reached the Jack Flash sequence of events, it sucked me back in. (Now that I think about it, it actually reminded me of China Mieville's mysterious rebel leader, whatisname...)

skinnyblackcladdink said...

Jack the mantis armed guy. can't remember his name either, too lazy to google it. his story is in Looking for Jake.

i plan on finishing Vellum eventually. is it a complete novel in itself, or do you really have to read the upcoming Ink after?

as for the Titus books, after a while, it wasn't an effort for me... it might be a little hard to get into at the start, but once you get a feel for it, it just rolls. but then again, that's just me.

what has been an effort, after i completed the "trilogy", was trying to get into anything else. everything just pales in comparison.

i have two copies of the overlook tusk omnibus edition, two copies of the vintage omnibus, a copy each of the old vintage separate editions with the dark covers, and a copy each of the newer editions with the white backgrounds.

oh, and really old editions of Titus Groan and Titus Alone. that edition of Titus Alone is the first version of the book, the one that isn't approved by Peake's estate.

and, again, i've ended up ranting about my fave books in the world. the only books that even come close: Mieville's Perdido and The Scar, M. John Harrison's Light and Viriconium, Beagle's The Last Unicorn, and VanderMeer's the City of Saint's and Madmen.

the only books i've read more than once: The Last Unicorn, Good Omens, The End of the Affair (yeah, yeah, so shoot me) and all three Titus Groan books.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

Jack Half-A-Prayer! just popped into me head.

banzai cat said...

Haha! You're a google-man, that's what you are.

Seriously, I swear you have a love affair with Gormenghast. Almost ten copies? Wow. I only have the Tusk edition but it looks lovely with my copy of the Mabinogion.

As for Vellum, well, I figured that once I finished reading it, it's good to have a breather before starting with Ink. I don't think the human mind is built to withstand reading one after the other. :-D

It's interesting to see your list of top-notch books. I can understand why you would pick Peake, Harrison, and Vandermeer and to a certain extent Mieville but Beagle? (I can hear strains of the Sesame Street song "Which one doesn't belong".)

On the other hand, what do you look for in a book? Prose? (Obviously a big factor for you given your citations.) Story? Characterization? Depth?

skinnyblackcladdink said...

the usual "style and substance" digs. but really, it's hard to pin down what really makes me like a book.

although i'm sure if some sociologist-psychoanalyst were to analyze my reading habits, they'd figure out the connection.

as for the Last Unicorn... i love this book. Beagle's prose in this book is both light and heady, like getting a good trip from weed (though i've never had a good trip myself). the world is both consistent and inconsistent, and makes no effort to distinguish itself from our own world. it is un-self-conscious in its fantasiness, and yet willing to borrow from the real world in which, ultimately, any fantasy world created by a writer from around here is rooted in. it is both light and beautiful and dark and grainy, and the story is simple but speaks volumes about the nature of being.

the cartoon gets sappy with the requisite song numbers, but i loved it as well.

Beagle, ironically, who did an introduction for an edition of LOTR (old Bantam, i think) and wrote the script for the Bakshi version, may be responsible from drawing me away from Tolkien in my taste for fantasy.

and i've rambled on and on and on again, and i apologize.


skinnyblackcladdink said...

hey, sorry for filling up your comment space. i realize i should probably do my rambling on my own blog, but it's just more convenient for a lazy blogger when i'm already here to begin with.

banzai cat said...

Hehe a man after my own heart. Have you tried Kelly Link or Jeff Ford (though I much prefer his short stories)? Theodora Goss or Patricia McKillip? Even Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange had points for this. Likewise, I can understand what you mean about Beagle though I much prefer his The Innkeeper's Song, which was more lyrical in the telling.

As for commenting here, hah! No problem man though you do know your comments could fill loads of blog posts, right? (And more comments for you too!)

skinnyblackcladdink said...

haha, yeah, but sometimes it's a chore for me to have to log in over on my blog to post (lazy bum).

i've read bits of Patricia Mckillip's Riddlemaster, though it got old for me real quick. haven't read Beagle's Innkeeper. will keep my eyes out for it.

as for Susanna Clarke, i love her stuff! i love her story in the Sandman Book of Dreams (Stopp't Clock Yard, i think) and her story on her site, and, of course, Strange and Norrel. can't wait for her next book. think she's coming out with a collection, if she hasn't already.

banzai cat said...

Riddlemaster was a bit of a puzzle but then, it was an older work. Her other, later stuff is better. And the prose at least has stayed as rich.

On the other hand, I've yet to read Clarke's stuff (aside from Jonathan Strange) so will have to keep an open mind about her writing. But I really liked Jonathan Strange.

(Geez, I wonder how long will it take for her to write another book? Jonathan Strange reportedly took 10 years.)

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