29 September 2013

Books on the Doorstep

I think most people like getting packages in the mail, and I'm no exception. I was out most of yesterday and missed the delivery of my latest order from my favorite bookseller, Ziesing Books. This morning I opened the box and took a first look at the goods. All were sale items, I should add, the four books coming in with shipping at about thirty bucks. The most expensive one (ten dollars!) was a trade paperback advance reading copy of William Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive. Despite being from 1988, it's in excellent shape. I've read all of Mr. Gibson's fiction, including his famous Cyberspace or "Sprawl" trilogy (Neuromancer, Count Zero, and the aforementioned MLO), but don't have all of it on the shelves. My notes tell me I read MLO in 1992--it will be nice to revisit that after more than twenty years. I wonder how well it holds up? The next item was a novel from 1996 by one of my all-time favorite writers, John le Carré. It was made into a movie of the same name starring Pierce Brosnan. Guessed yet? It's The Tailor of Panama. I don't own everything by Mr. le Carré, nor have I read everything, but I'm slowly filling in the collection. I see he has a new novel--A Delicate Truth. I'll have to get right on that as soon as I'm done with this one. TTOP is also a trade paperback and an advance reader's copy, and also in excellent shape. Not bad for seven dollars.

The other two are short story collections. One (a new hardback, only five dollars) is by another great British writer, Brian Aldiss, and is called Common Clay. It was a short story--"The Madonna of Futurity"--that originally turned me on to Mr. Aldiss' work, and I discovered later that story was part of a novel called Somewhere East of Life, which is part of a quartet called the "Squire" novels. I bought another in the series, Life in the West, from, of course, Ziesing Books. I still have to get my hands on the other two! The final item was a new $14.95 paperback (on sale for half price!) of mystery stories by the Russian dramatist Anton Chekov. I had no idea that he wrote such things, but he apparently enjoyed the genre and penned many such tales throughout his short but exceptional literary career. It's called A Night in the Cemetery and Other Stories of Crime and Suspense and was put out in 2008 by Pegasus. I love Chekhov's plays, and I'm quite curious about these other works.

So that's it. Four new books for thirty bucks. Do yourself a favor and check out Ziesing Books. It is a true mom-and-pop outfit and is located here in Northern California, in a little burg called Shingletown in Shasta County, just west of Lassen Peak. There's no storefront, just a website and a P.O. Box, but they still produce a print catalog. If you buy from them they keep you on the mailing list and send you their 40-page self-produced tome a couple of times a year. Mark--the pop--writes a letter about his life and the business that makes you feel like part of the family. When you call or email, Cindy--the mom--answers. You get personal service in the old-fashioned sense of the word, and you also get first-rate, professionally-packaged and timely-delivered high-quality eclectic goods for reasonable prices. How can you beat that?

p.s. What's on YOUR bookshelf these days?

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