Sunday, April 23, 2006

Book Acquisitions, late April 2006 edition

Sooooo, I was pretty self-controlled today. Didn’t spend too much. Not like the time when even the bookstore’s actual owner shook her head as she ran up my pile while saying “You went overboard again”. (And that was a bookstore in a town that’s 2.5 hours drive away which I only visit once or twice a year: Cunningham Books of Portland, Maine; but the bookstore owners there all know me.)

Today I just picked up a couple of remainders at the Harvard Book Store (unaffiliated with the University with which it shares an intimate propinquity), an independent book store in Harvard Square which I like to patronize (along with Porter Square Books , the best new indie bookstore around and totally the best thing to happen to my neck of the woods in years) in between shipments from Amazon. The store is also called Harvard New and Used.

Why these two books in particular? They actually weren’t the only books I thought about buying. Several others looked interesting, including The Helmet of Horror by a Russian author named Victor Pelevin (Виктор Пелевин). This book is a retelling of the Myth of Theseus, the Labyrinth and the Minotaur , and is part of the delightful Canongate Myths Series, which includes:

When I saw the Helmet of Horror at Harvard New and Used, I almost walked right over to Schoenhofs to see if they had the Russian original, Шлем ужаса, but I figured I’d look it up online. To my surprise and disappointment, they don’t seem to have it — at least not yet — though if it’s already had a chance to be translated into English you’d think they would have it by now (they have several other things by Pelevin). Perhaps I shouldn’t have worried about it, though: the text itself appears to be available online here. As you can see (even if you don’t read Russian), it’s quite an interesting-looking stylistic approach to both novel-writing and Greek mythology. I love the use of emoticons.

The Chronology book I got because I have been interested in Things Asian of late — I’ll have to post about that separately — and the Burns I got because, well, (a) I had no idea Burns was that prolific (I have several editions of Burns, but apparently not the complete works), and (b) he is supposed to be my great-great-great-to-the-Nth-degree grandfather, if my grandmother Sarah Burns of Dunoon was to be believed, so I figure I just should have it. Plus I love his poetry.

It is a pure coincidence — and in light of my discussing myth, an instance of fascinatingly Jungian synchronicity — that both the Robert Burns book and the Myths series are from the same publisher…