Monday, March 19, 2007

The Value Village Book Diet

You think with the budget coming down today I'd see material in the morning papers worth blogging about, but there seems to be nothing there that a hundred other people couldn't discuss with deeper insight.

So I'll talk about something else. For the past six months, in an attempt to save money, my reading material has been composed exclusively of books purchased from the local Value Village stores.

Here are some of the high and low lights.


Salammbo, by Gustave Flaubert. I spent my college years dodging Madame Bovary, so this little penguin edition was a pure upside surprise. It's Flaubert's least known novel (outside of France), and tells of the revolt against Carthage by an army of barbarian mercenaries. Hugely entertaining, very cinematic, and ironic in that the Carthaginians are at least as barbaric as their mercenary foes. Also interesting in light of 300, where the whole idea of homosexual unions in ancient armies is (apparently: I haven't seen the film) swept under the carpet. Here it is dealt with fairly openly. Great read, even in translation. Heavy on the barbaric splendour!

Song of The Dodo, by David Quammon. If Global Warming doesn't kill us, the decrease in global biodiversity will. That's the take away message from this 1996 pop-science classic. Despite the depressing subject matter, a very funny book. You can see the novelist's touch in Quammon's writing. My favorite part is his description of a group of Komodo dragons dismembering a dead goat.

Habitant Poems, by W.H. Drummond. My nod towards Canadiana. Poetry as Jean Chretien might have written it in garbled English! Also, I found a 4-leaf clover pressed between the pages.

The Artificial White Man, by Stanley Crouch. I guess you would call Crouch a black cultural theorist. Writes on Tarantino's movies, Borges, Hemingway, and popular culture. Sometimes highly provocative. For example, Crouch claims that the black athlete/white woman fad is driven by the fact that white women are far more open to sexual experimentation than their black counterparts. Hmm! On the downside, his prose can be a weird amalgam of Lit Crit abstraction and hipster talk.

The Amber Spy Glass, by Philip Pullman. The last entry in "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Good up until the end, where it devolves into metaphysical gibberish.

The Cultures of Cities, by Sharon Zukin. A bit hit or miss, but answers the question (in a brief aside): why do you see so many bland abstract paintings in your typical office building? Answer: because if you represent something, it might offend people, and most people don't know enough about abstract art to know if what they're seeing is good or bad.


White Teeth, by Zadie Smith. I really wanted to like White Teeth, and indeed some of it is LOL funny. Still, the writing is so arch it made me gag in places. Same, in spades, with The Autograph Man.

All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac MaCarthy. I liked Blood Meridian, even though I thought some of the writing did not make sense (though its biblical as all get out). This one, however, is pure ideological porn for Red-State goobers.

Anything by Michael Ignatieff. Its amazing how much stuff of Iggy's winds up in Value Village. And what awful shape its in. I found copies with human teeth marks in them, as though the reader had tried to chew the book to pieces out of pure rage.

In any case, it is clear that you can feed your mid to high-brow taste in reading material through Value Village, and nothing is really over $5.00. In fact, Habitant Poems cost me 99 cents for a book and some free good luck. You can't beat that deal.


Anonymous said...

You couldn't find anything worth blogging about? My God man. This, 19 March 2007, is the most infamous day in Anglo-Saxon history since the heinous murder in 1649 of our monarch, his grace, Charles 1, King of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Conrad Moffat Black, Lord of Crossharbour and all the lands and manors there pertaining to, stands trial in Chicago, falsely accused by a grab bag of colonial neer-do-wells of dubious pedigree, of conducting his business affairs in other than the most upstanding correctitude and stringent propriety.

The cabal of dippers, greenthings, liberals and assorted sniveling Marxist-Leninists who frequent these blogs no not how much they owe to the beneficence of Lord Black and others of his station for their good fortune in life. Just ask Paul Martin, Andre Desmarais and Iggy.

On to Chicago!

S.K. said...

Um Have you heard of a wonderful idea from the Carnegies? It's called the public library. Surely you have a couple in Toronto.

Ti-Guy said...

Its amazing how much stuff of Iggy's winds up in Value Village.

Oh, c'mon. You threw that in just to tease people. Did you really buy anything written by Iggy?

bigcitylib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bigcitylib said...

Empire Lite, Rights Revolution, and tried to read his novel but got to maybe page six. Tons of copies of Virtual War show up at Value Village, which is strange because its actually quite decent.

Anyway, bought 'em all at the big VV. Usually under $3 a pop.