Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.


Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Friday escape to Pegasus

On my work lunch hour....I ducked out of the monthly potluck, claiming mysterious "errands." People were not happy with me.

I will never understand work functions like potlucks. You work eight or nine hours daily with the same people, day after day. Then it's the sign-up list, the whispering that such-and-such only brings desserts, or that one never cooks anything, just buys cheese from the deli. There's invariably one person who adores potlucks and brings an elaborate dish, prepared lovingly at 4 a.m. Then lunchtime finally arrives, a schizoid spread complete with a bottle of wine that nobody will have the guts to open and pour.

I know--luncheons and parties are supposed to promote morale. I personally can think of many morale-boosters unrelated to group feeding. I'm certain you can, too. One of them is....

visiting the bookshop!

I went to Pegasus, where I wandered around blissfully. Going to bookstores is calming. It's quiet. The patrons are like you: people who love to read. The non-readers are across the street at Barnes and Noble, buying glossy garbage. The serious folk are peering sideways into the rows of used titles, then the new fiction, the new-nonfiction, the memiors. I save the cookbooks for last on lunch-hour visits as they can suck up all my time.

This week's grabs:

Lydia Davis: Samuel Johnson is Indignant.

In hardcover, used. The sort of book that makes you wonder about the seller. Did he/she hate Lydia Davis? Move to a smaller place and need the space? Die, and leave a terrific collection to be sold off by a reader of Chicken Soup drivel?

Paula Fox: Desperate Characters.

I am old enough to remember Paula Fox's young adult books. The Slave Dancer was a biggie when I was a kid....this was well before the phenomenon known as Courtney Love, who is Fox's granddaughter.

More importantly, Desperate Characters was one of those books I kept reading about from other authors I admired, most recently Francine Prose, in Reading Like a Writer. Add to the pile.

Finally, most expensively, and without, so far as I have read, a word of fanfare, an Everyman's Library Edition of Joan Didion's We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live. This gorgeous edition of the Great Joan's collected nonfiction is 1122 pages long, inset with two fabic bookmarks (surely there is a name for these?), and will set you back $30. Maybe if the NYTBR weren't spending so much time deciding whether or not they like the new Richard Ford, they could write a line or two about this?

The handsome guy at the checkout sighed admiringly. "Lydia," He smiled. "Lydia, Lydia, Lydia." We talked about her latest, The Thin Place, which had recevied so little promotion he had not heard of it, her MacArthur Genius Grant, the dearth of serious readers. He brought up Mitch Albom. Not me (really!). Of course I was game for the discussion.

I left smiling, eighty dollars lighter, immeasurably word-enriched.

Back at the office everyone sighed over what I'd missed. Brownies! Ice cream!

Errands, I said. So sorry.

Authors, Books


Blogger Darby M. Dixon III said...

In the you-vs-coworkers game, you definitely won.

(Though I'll admit to not being crazy about the Samuel Johnson book. Not my thing, I guess.)

October 30, 2006 12:57 AM  
Blogger sfp said...

At 1122 this isn't selections of Didion but all her nonfiction output up to but excluding Year of Magical Thinking?

October 30, 2006 3:28 PM  
Blogger Barking Kitten said...

Re: the Didion...ummm (going to get book)...selections, incredibly enough.

I feel any time out of the office in a bookstore is win, though my coworkers think I'm really weird.

October 30, 2006 7:48 PM  

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