Friday, March 11, 2016

Old Paperbacks

Met Bill Boyle and Ace for coffee last night. Afterward, Ace and I walked back to his office on the square. Ace had to pick up some things for a plane trip he's making today, and he mused aloud, glancing over his bookshelves, about what he should read on the plane. Maybe John D. MacDonald, he was thinking. I jokingly suggested I COULD GO ON SINGING, MacDonald's novelization of a Judy Garland movie. Ace has it! He has every single John D. MacDonald book, as you can confirm via this interview ("click" here) I did with him a while back. Ace picked up one and fretted over bringing a "vintage paperback" on an airplane, which reminded me that I had been considering just such a thing. (Ha ha ha! Are you still reading this? I don't care.) I need to figure out something to read on an airplane pretty soon. All the things I'm reading now are big, heavy, bulky monsters that no one would enjoy carrying through an airport in today's complicated times: THE BOOK OF MAGIC, OSWALD'S TALE, and I'm finally back into THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY, come on! Get real! Get with it! So, someone... I think it was Kent Osborne... recently told me he (or she) was reading Vonnegut again. Was it Kent? [It wasn't. - ed.] I'm embarrassed to say I can't remember (see also). That - combined with the sighting of a colorful row of spines along a shelf at Square Books: slick new(ish) Vonnegut paperbacks - made me remember a neat little cardboard box I had requested and received for Christmas when I was about 13, a cardboard box of five mass-market Kurt Vonnegut paperbacks.
Here, I found a picture of one on the "internet." I have a deep feeling that this could be the most boring "post" I've ever written and yet I feel no compulsion whatsoever to stop. For example, here's something funny I remember about this cardboard box of Kurt Vonnegut books. It used to have WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE in it but I removed it and hid it somewhere in shame or fear and, with some effort, squeezed my older and somewhat fatter copy of Vonnegut's PLAYER PIANO into its place (to avoid uncomfortable questions, I suppose). Why? I have the vague notion that something offended or terrified me about WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE! Whereas I spent a lot of time casting the movie of PLAYER PIANO that I was going to make when I grew up. All I remember is that Peter Sellers was in it. Wait, I'm almost to the point. I remembered that although I've had this cardboard box for around 40 years (see also), there are two books in there I've never read! What a crummy way to treat such a nice Christmas gift. What an ingrate! So I thought I might read my 40-year-old paperback of THE SIRENS OF TITAN on my upcoming airplane ride. I like everything about this edition (above)! Look at the purple pulpy (purply?) cover! Look at this dude in the loincloth and the (I assume) sirens in question. I like the price of 1.95 on the cover! I like that the edges of the pages are green-blue. I'll show you:
Are the pages of current mass-market paperbacks still edged in blue or red or gold? Once again I'm reminded that I'm just not observant enough to be a "writer." So THE SIRENS OF TITAN looked pristine!
And I opened it up and the first eight pages fell out. But I don't think that's going to stop me. Crack it open in the middle and you can see that most of the glue holding the book together has dissolved. I still feel okay.