‘This is the best bookshop in town,’ I said to the librarian as I handed over the money for my armful of $1 discarded books. To my friend I said, ‘Look what I found — how can they throw these out?’
First I spotted the Collected Poems of John Forbes (Aussie poet much admired by his peers, deceased untimely some years ago ... omigosh, 17 years already!) closely followed by Handwriting: Poems by Michael Ondaatje. Two treasures already! Then a play by Alan Bennett, The Habit of Art, about an imagined meeting between Benjamin Britten and W. H. Auden. Yes I know it’s better to see plays than read them, but some are very readable too, and Alan Bennett’s a genius. Also I am unlikely ever to have an opportunity to see this one performed.
Then there was The Way Forward Is With a Broken Heart by Alice Walker, memoir and short stories in one volume. (Been loving Alice Walker for decades, but these I haven’t read before.) And a book of poetry, Duty, by an Aussie I had not heard of, Geraldine McKenzie. I had a good browse of it first — I’m fussy about my poetry — and there’s some lovely stuff in it, spine-shivering in a good way. (I expect a lot of you will say you coulda told me that, and where have I been not to have heard of her? Far away from big cities and poetry hubs for 20+ years, is where.) Then I found the complete plays of Wilde, and then the complete plays of Marlowe.
I hope they are getting some good new stuff in the literature section to replace these goodies and justify discarding them. Yes, it’s my gain, but the community’s loss.
I grabbed The Feminist Companion to Literature in English as a present for someone and, for me again, a SERIOUS biography of Diana, Princess of Wales (by Sally Bedell Smith, 2007). And finally a book called Speaking with Beads: Zulu Arts from Southern Africa, with wonderful, colourful photos including close-ups. (No, I'm probably not going to take up beading, but I'll enjoy drooling.)
$10 the lot.
All in excellent condition. And perhaps that’s the clue. Perhaps they haven’t been much read. Well, they have come to a good home now, where they’ll be loved and appreciated.