by Catriona Mills

Bookshop Finds

Posted 20 September 2010 in by Catriona

I certainly posted the “Bookshop Porn” pictures from last weekend’s bookshop rummaging, but I never posted the actual books I’d bought.

I’ve photographed them against an enormous but completely anonymous pile of marking, just to really drive home the fact that I won’t get to read them any time soon.

This first lot owes itself to my second job. I’ve been working two jobs this semester, though it sometimes feels like more. I said to Nick the other day, when I was marking late into the night, “I feel as though I’m working two jobs.”

He said, “You are working two jobs.”

“Oh,” I said. “In that case, it feels as though I’m working three jobs.”

Anyway, this second job (the reason the blogging’s fallen off) entailed, at one point, reading through a great deal of information on the 1970s’ adaptation of Arthur Upfield’s Bony novels, and I thought to myself, “Hmm, I really must read some Arthur Upfield.” I think I have a couple of his other books on my shelf somewhere, but it would take me at least a week to find them, so I simply bought ones that looked unfamiliar.

It’s a technique that usually works.

Then there’s the compulsory pile of children’s fantasy, which I tend to call “research materials,” as though I might one day actually do something with one of my own novels. (Unlikely.)

But I’m slowly collecting the seven volumes in Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom: once I have them all, I’ll start reading them. This one’s book five, so I can’t be too far off.

I like to pick up Margaret Mahy, because she has the career I’d like to have. Well, to be honest, I’d like to be Diana Wynne Jones, but I don’t have that in me, unfortunately. But I’ve spoken of Mahy before on the blog, so I’ll just slide straight on past her to the L. Frank Baum at the bottom there.

It’s always a delight to find one of these editions. I’m slowly—very slowly, far more slowly than with Garth Nix—buying up all the Oz books, and simultaneously trying to buy them all in facsimile reprints. (The theory is that I’ll then get rid of the non-facsimile versions, but so far that’s failed to happen. Obviously.) So this one is a double bargain, because I don’t have this in any form whatsoever and it’s a facsimile reprint.

Score!

But the real excitement is in this last photo:

No one who doesn’t read/collect Rex Stout can really understand the excitement of finding Rex Stout novels in a secondhand bookshop. It’s a rare and wonderful thing. I suspect that people rarely get rid of their Stouts, because they’re not like, say, Agatha Christie novels. I’m terribly fond of Christie and have devoted more than a shelf of my limited bookcases to her novels, but hers really are “whondunnits”: much of the fun is gone once you find out who the murderer is. But the whodunnit aspect is, to me, only part of the joy of Rex Stout novels: their re-readability comes from Archie and Nero and the devoted but uneasy partnership in the old brownstone.

No wonder people don’t give them away easily. And no wonder when my mother said to me, “Oooh, what did you pay for them?”, I had to say, “Do you know, I didn’t even check?”

Share your thoughts [4]

1

Deb wrote at Sep 20, 01:24 AM

Ohhhh I had such a crush on James Laurenson when I was a girl – that influenced me to read the books then, I don’t know how well they will stand the test of time – let me know at some point?

2

Catriona wrote at Sep 20, 01:49 AM

It’s not a good sign that the publishers feels it necessary to add the following disclaimer:

Part of the appeal of Arthur Upfield’s stories lies in their authentic portrayal of many aspects of the outback Australian life in the 1930s and through into the 1950s. The dialogue, especially, is a faithful evaluation of how people spoke. Hence, these books reflect and depict the attitudes and ways of speech, particularly with regard to Aborigines and to women, which were then commonplace. In reprinting these books, the publisher does not endorse the attitudes or opinions they display.

I’ve actually never seen the TV series, which aired some years before I was born. (I’d like to see it, because it’s still got a good reputation, despite the concerns about casting a white man to play a man of mixed European and Aboriginal heritage. But they’ve never released it on DVD or even on video, which seems odd.)

I do remember the 1990s’ series with (of all things) Cameron Daddo, where they just played Bony as white with an Aboriginal mentor. That was a travesty.

3

Deb wrote at Sep 20, 02:54 AM

From memory James Laurenson was born in New Zealand so of Maori heritage rather than Australian Aboriginal. All Daddo’s make me unhappy ;-)

4

Catriona wrote at Sep 20, 03:22 AM

Ooops, my mistake: I should have said that “casting a non-Aboriginal actor in the part caused some controversy,” rather than “casting a white man.”

I don’t know whether or not Laurenson is Maori (or has Maori heritage); apparently, he had to undergo extensive make-up sessions for the role (including the addition of fake tribal scars).

(I’m getting much of my information here from AustLit, because of my aforementioned ignorance of the TV series, but I won’t link to the page, because AustLit is still subscription-only.)

Still, it could have been worse: they were originally planning on casting Jon Finch, which I don’t imagine would have gone down any too well, because Jon Finch is pretty damn white.

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