Saturday, June 14, 2008

Two in the Bush

There's something about the thrill of the hunt that makes events like book sales magnetic. The annual library sale is an event of epic proportions, 800 people already waiting in line before it opened. Carefully avoiding this particular spectacle, the search began somewhat later, by which time the neatly classified tables (Science, Medicine and Health, Home and Garden, Fiction and Literature (an intriguing distinction), Art and Craft, etcetera) were completely hybridised. A defiant sea of uncategorised books awaiting - an entire gymnasium full of trestle tables, with books arrayed spine-up. The adrenalin pulses. Across the table from me two mature gentlemen with strong accents are planning their search strategy. One of them had recently been into the library to get a particular book, and was told it had been taken to the book sale: he was determined to find it. He described it to his companion, in terms so universal it was enough to bring a sigh, an expression of the magnitude of their task. I looked up and they smiled across the table, a communal moment of needle-in-haystack dauntingness. The furtive searching at all the tables all around was tinged with urgency, as though driven by some insatiable need to read, people were stockpiling, taking their hauls from the tables to the side of the gym, where towers of books wavered about. My own harvest was small, precise. After several tables of picking up and putting back, and while I was on Medicine and Health, I spied The Bird Artist by Howard Norman, a title which had gone straight into my mind when I recently read someone writing about it, the title had resonated with a favourite book of my own, Jane Alison's The Love Artist (a re-sampling of the past, one of those works which re-situates all of history within the fiction category, telling of a few lost days in Ovid's life, where he encounters his muse ...). On this same table, about 10 books along, a spine leapt forward, Peter Ackroyd's English Music, which I had been meaning to read, and fate had tweaked the necessary threads. A perfect harvest on a winter's day. The two gentlemen were nowhere to be seen ... had they found the book, given up ... or simply been swallowed up by the vast ocean of tomes, agitated by the furtive dashing, hither and yon, of the book feeders, filling their pantries for the long winter ahead ...


2 comments:

artandmylife said...

Our annual distict wide sale is coming up. I always find something I want but am hoping for Pessoa this year

jacky bowring said...

Happy hunting ...