I was so close. For the first time in forever, I was going to leave a bookstore with my spendings safely within budget. But then I saw a damn book. Looking at the cover, it was merely interesting. But then I opened it. And there. Fuck you, budget.
This book, as any of you following my Twitter feed at the time would realise, was The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. This is a gorgeously illustrated mix of prose, picture book, graphic novel and silent film stills. Can’t comment on the quality of the writing yet, but it’s worth the price I paid just to sit looking at it.
Here are the other books I bought. All of these (except the Bradbury) were bought at Landmark’s discount tables, where you get brand-new books for lunch-money prices. Sometimes they are slightly scruffy or something like that, or discounted for silly reasons – for instance, you might find Book 4 in a series of 7 with the other 6 nowhere to be seen in the entire shop. But most of them are just inexplicably cheap.
The Lynne Truss Treasury by Lynne Truss (author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, which, oddly enough – to me, at least – I haven’t read): Three novels and a shitload of columns (656 pages, as per Amazon). So a lot of bang for my buck, although the customer reviews are not particularly encouraging. We shall hope.
Inner Circle by T. Coraghessan Boyle: Stylistically, this guy has probably been the biggest influence on my writing, and I’m not even that big a fan of his. Maybe I was just at a very receptive stage when I read him. Also, this book was originally on the discount table for Rs. 199, and I skipped it (because I already have two collections of his I need to reread). Today I got it for Rs. 99. So good things come to those who etc.
Just Enough Liebling by A. J. Liebling: Gigantic collection of columns about food and sundry. Browsed, liked the style, bought.
Masterplan by Scott Mills: Landmark, I firmly believe, bought a whole bunch of Top Shelf comics at the same time that I did – at last year’s big sale, when Top Shelf sold off what seemed like half their catalogue for $3 each (that’s TPBs, not single issues, by the way). Now Landmark seems to be moving these books from one store to another hoping someone will take them off their hands. Bring ’em on, Landmark. I’m right here.
Reasons I Won’t Be Coming by Elliot Perlman: A collection of character-based short stories that seems fascinating.
Truth: A History and a Guide for the Perplexed by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto: About the decline about the fundamental quest for knowledge. Bought on the basis of a lovely narrative about an old Sudanese ritual.
Million Dollar Baby: Stories from the Corner (a.k.a. Rope Burns) by F. X. Toole: Liked what little I saw of the movie. This is the original short story collection it was based on. Stories seem punchy, heartfelt.
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen: Psychological thriller. Bought based on the darkly funny first page.
The Geographer’s Library by Jon Fasman: One of the most disparaging views on this book was by someone who compares it unfavourably with The Da Vinci Code after telling us how she’s been a voracious reader for over forty years. So there are two possibilities. One, she doesn’t like Dan Brown (the sane option, which would mean I’ve got a turd on my hands). Two, she likes Dan Brown, in which case I’m probably safe.
Ardor – A Novel of Enchantment by Lily Prior: Supposedly a weird little romantic fairy tale with Dahl-level naughtiness. I’m so there.
The Fundamentals of Drawing Portraits by Barrington Barber: I now have 2 more books about drawing (2) than I do sketchbooks filled with drawing (0). Iz doin it rong, I believe.
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury: Now I don’t exactly consider Bradbury the pinnacle of style in SF. But this seems to be more about ideas, on which I can probably trust him. This is going to be my first read from this batch.
Be Cool by Elmore Leonard: I had to start on Leonard some day. This is supposed to be one of his weaker works. So if I like it, I can probably assure myself that it’ll only get better.
Also, a note: I am extremely glad that no one from the fantasy community has looked at the word ‘Scientifiction’ and thought, We gotta get ourselves one of those, and made up the word ‘Fantastifiction’. I googled it and there are some who use it, but they all seem to be morons of the kind we need not give a fuck about.