Paul Beatty’s brilliant satire, The Sellout is about a present-day man who accidentally acquires a slave and loves his former town so much that he physically redefines its town lines and reinstitutes segregation. I bought the book because it sounded like a thought-provoking and challenging satire, one of the cover blurbs, called it “Swiftian satire of the highest order.” I assumed I would appreciate the humor and the authorial voice, but detest the protagonist. But Beatty created an incredibly likable character, one that truly means well but can’t help when strange things happen to him (like having a suicidal man he saved pledge his life as a slave to him). He ends up in the Supreme Court as a result of his trying to improve his community. Continue reading
Another year, another Friends of the San Francisco Public Library booksale. This year was different though. I received a VIP pass, so I was invited to go for the member day, when it was closed to the riff raff (me, every other day). I went around five, and everything was still so clean and pristine. People were everywhere, books piled high, similar editions grouped into large stacks, and so many clean almost brand-new editions.
“At the time not a soul in sleeping Holcomb heard them—four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives. But afterward the townspeople, theretofore sufficiently unfearful of each other to seldom trouble to lock their doors, found fantasy re-creating them over and again—those somber explosions that stimulated fires of mistrust in the glare of which many old neighbors viewed each other strangely, and as strangers.” (Capote, 5)
Starting last year I began keeping track of all the books I’ve bought. Every year I think I’ve curbed my book buying, but each year I realize I’ve bought around the same amount.
It’s an addiction that I’ve learned to live with. I avoid book browsing for months at a time but once I walk into a bookshop, I take a deep breath and smell the fresh books. It’s both welcoming and comforting.
Every year I try to outread myself. This year I read less books than expected. I suffer from the reader’s constant stress over not reading enough, buying too much, and being overly optimistic in my reading.
I spend almost as much time thinking about reading as I do actually reading. I like to browse bookstores, poke around online, and chat with friends. Numerous notes are made throughout the year to pick up another book recommended by a friend.