Friday, October 17, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Despite the regular shopkeepers keeping their shutters open on Sunday in view of the Diwali shopping spree, many of Abids’s second hand bookseller were present. It is a comforting sight to see all those books laid out on the pavement and the anticipation of finding something rare or good.
One of Paul Theroux’s titles that I am looking for is ‘Fresh Air Fiend’ that I had once found long back but, quite foolishly, had not bothered to pick up right away and hence lost it. I still haven’t found a copy of it but last Sunday at Abids I found a good copy of ‘The Happy Isles of Oceania’ that I already have in my collection. I couldn’t resist buying this second copy since it was in a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees each. The Penguin edition was in perfect condition and I bought it the moment I saw it.

Recently, I came to know about a seller of second hand books in Matunga, Mumbai. In his latest list of books that he mailed to me on my request, I found a title I was unable to find anywhere. He had a hardcover edition of ‘Disgrace’ by JM Coetzee. I ordered the book from him and he mailed to me last week. I waited a whole week for it and I got it the other day.
I was glad to see inside that the hardcover edition was one of the 2500 copies printed to celebrate the centenary of Harvill Secker, the publisher. Though the dust jacket was missing it was more than the two hundred and twenty five rupees I paid for it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Sunday Haul

There is a large gap in my reading that I have been trying to fill since long but not quite succeeding. It is a bit embarrassing to confess that I haven’t read many classics. I haven’t read titles by Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, the Bronte sisters, and many other writers. Somehow I feel daunted by the sheer size of the books and hence have avoided buying and reading them. Recently I made a beginning and read John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ that I found to be good. The Sunday before the previous I came across a good copy of ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen that I was getting for cheap. I bought it.
The next find was by a writer I had read about recently. Currently I am reading Paul Theroux’s ‘Sunrise With Seamonsters’ in which he wrote about Joyce Cary in an essay titled ‘An English Visitor’ which was about Cary’s novels. He had mentioned all the novels except ‘Mister Johnson’ which was the book I found on Sunday. Earlier after I found Chinua Achebe’s books I was looking on the net for reviews and articles on him. I found Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s essay in where she mentioned ‘Mister Johnson.’ When I saw the book at Abids I picked it up without hesitation. It wasn’t exactly a good copy but then I have never seen this book at Abids or anywhere before so I have to make do with that I found.
There was a time when I was quite desperate to find GV Desani’s ‘All About H.Hatterr’ that I found sometime this year after a long search. I was thrilled when I found it since I had read that it was a rare title and copies were difficult to find. However, I found another copy, a beautiful one that was in pristine condition. I got this copy for peanuts, paying only hundred rupees for it.
I also found a book by another regional language author that I picked up based on the cover alone. I found Oriya writer, Gyaneswar Misra’s ‘Face of the Morning’ with the same seller where I found ‘Mister Johnson’ and got it quite cheap. I was very pleased to find it but I really wish I could find something by Fakir Mohan Senapati.
There was another bestseller that I did not buy for various reasons. The book was more than thousand pages long and was thicker than a brick, the price was two hundred and fifty rupees and besides, it wasn’t a title I wasn’t exactly dying to read. The book was ‘Infinite Jest’ by David Foster Wallace which I did not buy.
Sometime during the middle of the week before the last I happened to be in Secunderabad on some errand. Whenever I am in Secunderabad I make it a point to drop in at the Best Book store in YMCA. So I went there for a quick look and found a wonderful book. I saw a collection of ‘Great Love Stories’ in a collection titled ‘My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead’ edited Jeffrey Eugenides.

The hardcover book contains twenty seven love stories written by some big time writers. Here’s the list:

First Love and Other Sorrows by Harold Brodkey

The Lady with the Little Dog by Anton Chekhov

Love by Grace Paley

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

The Dead by James Joyce

Dirty Wedding by Denis Johnson

Natasha by David Bezmozgis

Some Other, Better Otto by Deborah Eisenberg

The Hitchhiking Game by Milan Kundera

Lovers of Their Time by William Trevor

Mouche by Guy de Maupassant

The Moon in Its Flight by Gilbert Sorrentino

Spring in Fialta by Vladimir Nabokov

How to Be An Other Woman Lorrie Moore

Yours Mary Robinson

The Bad Thing by David Gates

First Love by Isaac Babel

Tonka by Robert Musil

Jon by George Saunders

Red Rose, White Rose by Eileen Chang

Fireworks by Richard Ford

We Didn’t by Stuart Dybek

Something That Needs Nothing by Miranda July

The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

Innocence by Harold Brodkey

The Bear Came Over the Mountain by Alice Munro

All these great stories by some of the greatest writers in a hard-bound book, all mine for only two hundred and thirty rupees

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Neither festival nor anything seems to stop the second hand bookseller from setting up shop in Abids on Sundays as they have been doing since decades. They do it because they know those who love books (and there are many of them here in Hyderabad) come looking for them. The Sunday before the previous one some of the regular shopkeepers had opened their shops which meant the booksellers had to spread their wares in other parts. This Sunday more shops opened but the book sellers simply went a bit further away with their books on the pavement. I was there last Sunday but without the company of Uma and Shrikant which meant I did not have chai at our usual café. It was a solo hunt but it made me more focused which resulted in a haul of three books.
The first find was Dave Barry’s ‘Bad Habits’ that had been there on the pavements since long. I picked it up though I have another copy of this title. However, it did not come cheap and I had to pay eighty rupees for it. I am always reading one or the other title of Dave Barry to savor his crazy brand of humor which never goes stale.
The second find was a title by a writer I discovered only recently. I found Charles McCarry’s ‘The Last Supper’ in a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees. The bottom of the cover was in shreds and most of the title was also gone. However the author’s name was what caught my eye and thus I found this new title. I already have three of his titles one of which I am currently reading- The Better Angels- which isn’t as good as the first one I had read, which was ‘The Tears of Autumn.’ There is another of his titles that I had found recently- The Miernik Dossier- that I have yet to read.

The third find was not at Abids, but at a seller in Chikkadpally. I found Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘The Purple Hibiscus’ that I bought at a steep price. I got it for a hundred rupees which I think is reasonable enough given that the book was in a good condition and looked almost new. This is the second title by this Nigerian author that I have, the first being ‘That Thing Around Your Neck’ that I had found long ago and have also not found the time to read. At the back of TPH is a list of her ten favorite books and one of the titles is Amit Chaudhuri’s ‘A Strange and Sublime Address’ which I haven’t read. There were only two other titles in that list that I have read- ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Marquez, and ‘Arrow of God’ by Chinua Achebe who happens to be one of her favorite writers and her hero.

With these three books my haul of books till date in this year is 117.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Usually I do not miss buying any copy of any of Dave Barry’s titles but I had almost half a dozen copies of ‘Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits’ and so did not buy the copy I kept seeing at a seller at Abids every Sunday. I had asked for the price and after hearing the price I decided to let someone else buy it. However, no one seemed very interested in picking it up and more than a couple of occasions I had been tempted to buy it. But I didn’t, until last Sunday. In a pile of books selling for only twenty rupees I saw the cover first. It had become detached from the rest of the book. I couldn’t bear to see it in such a condition so I picked up the book. After I got home I fixed up the cover and felt glad that I had bought it. There’ll always be someone who might enjoy the sort of humor that Dave Barry writes.
That was the only book I picked up on Sunday but earlier in the week I had bought another book. Last Friday on an unexpected visit to the MR Bookstore near the flyover at Punjagutta I found ‘The Penguin Book of American Short Stories’ edited by James Cochrane. I picked it up instantly since the price was only thirty rupees. The book has famous names and has the following stories: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, Bartleby by Herman Melville, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain, The Outcasts of Poker Flat by Francis Bret Harte, One of the Missing by Ambrose Bierce, The Real Thing by Henry James, An Unfinished Story by O. Henry, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky by Stephen Crane, Neighbor Rosicky by Will Cather, To Build a Fire by Jack London, Death in the Woods by Sherwood Anderson, Who Dealt by Ring Lardner, Flowering Judas by Katherine Anne Porter, The Rich Boy by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Delta Autumn by William Faulkner, The Battler by Ernest Hemingway, The Jewbird by Bernard Malamud, Children on Their Birthdays by Truman Capote and Wife-Wooing by John Updike.

Friday, September 19, 2014


One thing I wish I could do more often is go to Necklace Road early on Sunday morning and watch the sun rise over the calm waters of Hussain Sagar. I have done it many times in the past and it has never failed to be a magical experience that put me in a different frame of mind. It is something I’ve found to be worth getting up at five in the morning on a Sunday when all you want to do is to get up a little later than your usual time.

The last time I did it was a couple of months ago. Since then for some reason or the other I couldn’t find the time to go to Necklace Road to watch the sunrise. However last Saturday I resolved to go and there I was at Necklace Road much before the sunrise. It was really magical and I felt it can be called a minor soul-cleansing experience because all at once I felt calm and all the negativity inside just went down.

Later, as is my routine, I sat in Adarsh café reading the Sunday papers leisurely for more than an hour. After watching the magical sunrise no headline felt alarming. Life just felt wonderful, at least, until Monday dawned.

The Sunday Haul

The Sunday before last Sunday I couldn’t visit Abids to look for books because of the rain. It was an agonizing week I spent waiting for Sunday which turned out to be a wonderful, sunny Sunday. The wait was worth it because I found four fantastic books.
The first find was ‘Seeing Things’ by Seamus Heaney. It had a beautiful cover and I got it for just fifty rupees. It is a book of poems and contains nearly forty poems. I was terribly glad I found this wonderful volume brought out by ‘Faber and Faber’ for so cheap. It has some priceless poetry inside. For those who don’t know Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.
Another book I picked up along with Seeing Things at the same seller and at the same time and at the same price was ‘Dying Alone’ by Krishna Baldev Vaid. The book has a novella (Dying Alone) and ten short stories:- Silence, The Stone of a Jamun, The Voice Robber, My Effigy, The Sould of Darkness, the Fourth Window, The Thieves’ Thief, An Evensong, An Evening with Bhookh Kumari, and The Old Man in the Park. These are translated from Hindi by the author himself and I picked up this book since I have heard a lot about Krishna Baldev Vaid but hadn’t read any of his works. It would be interesting to read the original stories in Hindi if I am able to find them somewhere.
A few steps later I found another copy of China Mieville’s ‘Perdido Street Station’ in a heap of books selling for just twenty rupees. I had another copy with me that I had bought long back but this appeared to be a far better copy so I picked it up. However, I don’t know when I will get to read it since there are too many books waiting to be read.
Another book that I found not at Abids but at a seller near RTC crossroads was one I already have a copy of. It was ‘The Art of Living: Epictetus’ by Sharon Lebell that I got for fifty rupees. This is one wonderful book that teaches you so much about finding balance in your life and being calm at all times, in grief and in happiness which is something I am not able to do at all. It is at Abids I lose all sense of balance and proportion when I see all those books!

Friday, September 05, 2014

The Sunday Haul

These two books are what I came up with in the haul last Sunday, one at Abids and the other at another place.
Some of the best short stories ever are written by Irish writers and I have read quite a few collections by them. One of the writers who has left a deep impression on me is Alistair MacLeod whose collection ‘Island’ I found by chance at a book sale. The short stories in it were some of the best I have read so far. Since then I’ve been on the look out for collections of short stories and whenever I come across one I do not miss buying them.

On Sunday at Abids I was going through a pile of books selling for only twenty rupees when my eye fell on a pale green cover that I picked up to see more of. It was Frank O’ Connor’s ‘Collected Stories, Volume I’ that I bought right away. Frank O’Connor is a name that I have been coming across often along with Flannery O’Connor whose short stories I am unable to find anywhere. Now I want to find his ‘Bone of Contention’ and ‘Guests of the Nation.’ This collection is divided into two volumes, or rather two parts- Fish for Friday and A Life of Your Own.

The first part, ‘Fish for Friday, has the following thirteen stories:
A Sense of Responsibility
The Little Mother
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
The Old Faith
A Brief for Oedipus
Father and Son
Private Property
Fish for Friday
Androcles and the Army
Achille’s Heel
The Wreath
The Weeping Children.

The second part titled ‘A Life of Your Own’ has the following twelve stories:
A Life of Your Own
The Impossible Marriage
Unapproved Route
Music When Soft Voices Die, Sue
A Mother’s Warning
The Corkerys
The School for Wives
The American Wife
The Cheat
Variations on a Theme.
The other book I found on Sunday was one on screenwriting that I found with a book seller near RTC Crossroads in Musheerabad. I bought it hoping it would help me with a script I am struggling with since a long time. The book was ‘Screenwriting’ by Madeline DiMaggio that I got for ninety rupees.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Some time back, 2011, I guess I read somewhere about the books that Barack Obama took on his vacation to read. One of the titles that I remembered was John Le Carre’s ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ and the other title was David Mitchell’s ‘The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.’ I have come across ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ but haven’t seen the other title anywhere till last Sunday.

On Thursday I was in a second hand bookstore where I saw a copy of David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’ selling for Rs 100. Somehow I didn’t buy it though I was aware of its bestseller status. Also, it was quite a tome. I had several titles bigger than that (like The River of Smoke, Idris) lying unread and I did not want to add one more intimidating doorstopper.
On Sunday, at a seller near the GPO I found a nice copy of ‘The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet’ which was quite a tome with 560 pages. The seller was ready to give it to me for Rs 80 rupees which I shelled out. I knew because I wouldn’t be able to find it anywhere so cheap.
Another book I picked up on Sunday was Stephen King’s ‘Everything’s Eventual’ which is a collection of 14 dark tales- Autopsy Room Four, The Man in the Black Suit, All That You Love Will Be Carried Away, The Death of Jack Hamilton, In the Deathroom, The Little Sisters of Eluria, Everything’s Eventual, L.T’s Theory of Pets, The Road Virus Heads North, Lunch at The Gotham Café, That Feeling YOU Can Only Say What Is It in French, 1408, Riding the Bullet, and Lucky Quarter. I had recently finished reading his ‘On Writing’ once again and thought it would be a good idea to taste some of his stories. This book was with the same seller who gives the books to me at any price I ask. I got it for fifty rupees which is a bit higher than what I usually pay but then this was an almost brand new copy.
Apart from the two good titles I found, the Sunday was a special for another reason. Jai came along with Hari Balakrishnan, watch and pen collector/restorer/expert with an unmatched knowledge of fountain pens made in India. Recently I had bought three fountain pens from him so I was keen to meet him and thank him personally for the fountain pens with the special nibs that are a pleasure to own and write. Along with Uma and Srikanth, we were quite a crowd.
In the photographs taken by Shrikanth at Abids: Uma in red tee and Raybans pretending to be intimidated in my presence beside him. Hari B next to me and next to him Jai bhai.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Somehow since the past couple of weeks the haul during my weekly visits to the second hand book bazaar at Abids has been just one or two titles. It is something I welcome since I am running out of space at home to store all the books I keep buying all the time. The other Sunday I had bought just one book and the Sunday before the last Sunday too I bought just one book.
At Chikkadpally I saw a few Robert B. Parker titles and only one of them was a title I did not have and the rest were all titles I have a couple of copies of. I picked up ‘Pale Kings and Princes’ that I got for just twenty rupees though I could have got it for a lesser price. There was a copy of ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’ by Mohammed Hanif that I did not buy. Later I felt I should have bought it but last Sunday too I did not pick it up though the title was still on the pavement.
Last Sunday though the haul was nil as I did not find any book worth buying except for a book on solving crosswords. I found ‘Cryptic Crosswords & How to Solve Them’ by Fred Piscop that I got for just twenty rupees. There seemed to be nothing else interesting to pick up. However, I also picked up the June 2014 issue of Conde Nast Traveller. I got it from my favorite seller for only twenty rupees.
It was a hot day though with the temperature somewhere in the mid thirties which is a bit unusual for this time of the year. There has been no rain for a long time which is another thing weighing on my mind since one of my tasks on the job is to keep track of the monsoon. I have to send reports to everyone who matters on how much it has rained and what the deficit it. As on today, the rainfall deficit in the State (Telangana) is 53 % if any of you cares to know.

Friday, August 08, 2014

The Sunday Haul

The surprises at Abids never cease. Last Sunday I found another crime fiction title by a writer I had not heard about before. I found 'I Married a Dead Man' by Cornell Woolrich and got it for only thirty rupees. Since it was a Penguin title I had a hunch it could be a good book and I found I was right when I read the reviews of the book and the author's bio online.