Monday, 23 March 2009

books i bought at stanza

so sorlil left us for places rankin but said to us before we parted, as we'd let her know that we'd missed browsing in barnardo's by about three minutes and had to content ourselves gazing fruitlessly thru the window - there's a second hand book shop just up the road.

as everyone knows there are second hand bookshops and then there are second hand bookshops. this was definitely the latter! i suspected as much as i browsed a book on moorish spain outside. once i got in tho, it was a whole different ballgame - this was what i'd been expecting in a second hand book store in a university town, marvellously quirky and full of treasures. my wallet hung heavily in my pocket and i only just avoided a major beckett buying spree by virtue of having selected the following...

nine horses by billy collins
selected poems and fragments by holderlin
the lives and times of archy and mehitabel by don marquis
the embarrassment of riches by simon schama
one art - selected letters of elizabeth bishop

i like billy collins and that's that. holderlin? my shelves feel bare without him and, as i've discovered, his german is just fun to speak. archy and mehitabel i've gone on about at length before but this is a copy, with illustrations, from the twenties and i wasn't going to leave the shop without it! embarrassment of riches i've been meaning to get for a while, mainly on the strength of citizens which, while it has its shortcomings, is still a favourite, along with his british history. so far it seems interesting and is more the schama that was than what we have to put up with now.

the pick of the bunch tho, is elizabeth bishop's letters. what a find! i was specifically interested in her correspondence with robert lowell and it doesn't fail on that front but it's all the rest, that vanished world, that provides the incentive to go back and back to it. the fact of the letters alone - she wrote so many - is difference enough. somehow i can't see the current crop of emails and blogs holding up as well tho distance and time will probably prove me wrong. she is not, as i've heard her portrayed, some sort of recluse but rather someone who's involved with her own time and space. given my own mode of life i can find some sympathy with this. i'm sure it will provide me with many happy hours of reading.

the woman in the shop was lovely. she didn't know elizabeth bishop she said but was sure they had something else. here, she said, a book of her paintings. perhaps, she suggested, bishop was a better poet? i smiled and didn't buy it, but certainly we'll be back across to st andrews sometime soon to buy something else. once we've made the shelf space....


Andrew Shields said...

It pleases me that you like Billy Collins.

swiss said...

i've never understood the anti-collins feeling from some people. even when i'm not in the mood for him i can't bring muself to dislike him. i shall report back on nine horses...