Monday, January 01, 2007

A very happy new year to you all!

I am feeling saint-like for shopping for three consecutive days last week with a gaggle of teenagers. First I should explain that I am NOT a good shopper, and specifically not a good clothes shopper. My worst nightmare is dragging around shop after shop, filled with hordes of people - mostly not looking where they're going - and trying on clothes. I buy clothes when I need them, or not at all (the exception to the rule is sari shopping in India, who can resist those gorgeous silks?! The best thing about sari shopping too is that since there's no need to try anything on, the decisions are simply about colour and fabric). Here in England the post-Christmas sales were on of course and so clothes shopping was what the young 'uns wanted to do (age range 13-23 and a mixed gender group too; oh, the complications!). To be fair, because I wasn't trying anything on, it was fairly painless; I am a very good coat and bag rack, I discovered. And I give free fashion consultations. Quite useful to have around really.

I promptly blew the whole "I am not a shopper" theory by raiding the Chaucer Bookshop, the Hospice charity shop and the Oxfam bookshop on the way home afterwards, emerging with a bagload of books. We just like different things, but I certainly can shop! My latest haul:

THE MOON OF GOMRATH - Alan Garner (20p, 1965 edition in pristine condition; My favourite of his is THE WEIRDSTONE OF BRISINGAMEN which includes just about the most claustrophobic description ever of squeezing out of tight places deep underground)

SWALLOW, THE STAR - K.M. Peyton (20p; I've never read this, but as a teenager loved her Flambards series; some of Peyton's out of print back catalogue is being reprinted by Fidra Books, so this seems highly appropriate to get up to speed).

Three of the now out of print Mantlemass books by Barbara Willard: THE LARK AND THE LAUREL, THE SPRIG OF BROOM, THE IRON LILY (79p each, pristine copies from the 1970s; I haven't read them since I was a child, but snaffled them up as I loved them then and have rarely seen them since, so am looking forward to the re-read. I'll have to keep a lookout for the missing ones in the series). Also Willard's THE MILLER'S BOY, which I've never read.

WHITE MUGHALS - William Dalrymple (£1, in pristine condition).

THE BLACK INTERPRETERS - Nadine Gordimer (£3.99, hard to come by, printed in 1973)

THE LITERATURE AND THOUGHT OF MODERN AFRICA - Claude Wauthier (£5, 1966. Looks interesting; originally written in French and the focus is mostly Francophone African writers, which I don't know an awful lot about as I don't speak/read French, so I am looking forward to this).

- Amos Tutuola (£12, but well worth it - absolute gold dust: hardback first edition 1962 in pristine condition, SO exciting! The cover blurb says "Four a long time to wait for a new book by the inimitable Amos Tutuola, whose reputation is now almost worldwide..." Isn't that interesting? Published by Faber & Faber at the time, my guess is that he has passed out of the awareness of the general reading public now.

Retail therapy!

May your year ahead be full of wonderful reading.

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Blogger dovegreyreader said...

Thank goodness you fitted in some bookshops! Happy New Year

8:14 pm  
Blogger Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

Sounds like some wonderful finds! Happy New Year!


9:42 pm  
Anonymous Ann said...

I just love the Mantlemass books. I hadn't realised they were out of print. What sheer stupidity!

I first read 'The Weirdstone of Brisingamen' and 'The Moon of Gomrath' when at College in the late 60s. My room had no bedside lamp and I used to have to get out of bed when I'd finished reading, cross the room, switch off the light and then rush back to bed; when I was reading those, I kept the light on all night - I was too scared to do otherwise!


6:26 pm  
Blogger The Traveller said...

Good haul! Tutuola's The Palm Wine Drinkard is still around - I think it was recently republished by Heinemann - but I think you're right about his absence from the literary consciousness now.

8:23 am  
Blogger equiano said...

Thanks DGR - felt it was necessary to keep my sanity intact!

Welcome orange blossom goddess - good finds indeed, and since the weather reports here are full of nasty weather on its way, I hope to get a chance soon to curl up and read them.

Ann - I hadn't realised the Mantlemass books were OP either, just saw them and they were in such beautiful condition (covers still bright and fresh after all these years - they looked new!) so I bought them on a whim. It wasn't till I got home and looked up the missing books in the series online that I realised. Such a shame. Love your Alan Garner story - I remember the flying leap from half way across the room into bed just in case something nasty lurked underneath!

Happy New Year Traveller - you're absolutely right: PALM-WINE DRINKARD remains in print, but the rest of his backlist (and he was fairly prolific) are long gone. As a contemporary of Chinua Achebe's it is interesting to compare the two.

10:34 am  
Blogger Debi said...

Happy new year to you and yours.

I'm hoping we might end up standing next to each other in 2007 - and this time know about it!

1:09 pm  
Anonymous danielle said...

Happy New Year!! I am with you on clothes shopping! Just drop me off at the bookstore and I'll meet you later! :) Glad to see you got to book-shop as well!

3:16 am  
Blogger equiano said...

Happy New Year Debi and Danielle!

Debi, this time round I know what you look like, so that should help! I feel sure that at some point we'll meet up, a future blogmoot perhaps...

Danielle, I don't know what it is, but just the thought of clothes shopping gives me a headache and I just have to recuperate promptly with coffee and a book!

10:38 am  

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