It was one of those lovely Sundays when there is nothing to do, when you take a walk or work in the garden, and then remember it’s 50%-off day at the Planned Parenthood Book Sale in Des Moines.
It was much more crowded than on Thursday, the first day of the sale, and we were glad to see the crowd. By Sunday the sale is picked over, and some of the tables are actually bare, but the books are easier to see on the thinned tables. Today I looked through several categories I hadn’t managed to get to the first night.
And, thank God, it was a different selection from Thursday’s “Cozy Fest,” when I brought home mainly middlebrow books by Margaret Kennedy, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Margery Sharp, and the like. It’s not that I won’t enjoy them, but I need variety.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE FINDS.
It has been years since I read Donald Barthelme, one of the best American postmodern writers of the 20th century. I love his short stories (Sixty Stories), and this will be my second try at his meta-fairy tale, Snow White, which struck me as very sexist in my radical feminist days. This time I am reading only for style: there are some good things about maturing. The Dead Father, about which I know nothing, looks fascinating, too.
My aunt was a great fan of Robert van Gulik’s Chinese mysteries, though somehow they never appealed to me until I found this two-in-one Dover edition, with The Haunted Monastery and The Chinese Maze Murders, and illustrations by the author.
Manlio Argueta is a Salvadoran author, and the jacket copy of One Day of Life says it describes “a typical day in the life of a peasant family caught up in the terror and corruption of civil war in El Salvador.” We are huge fans of Thomas McGuane and read aloud parts of The Bushwacked Piano years ago on a bicycle trip, but didn’t get through much since I fell asleep in the tent around 6 p.m. I recommend McGuane’s 2015 collection of short stories, Crow Fair, if you want a place to start.
There is a certain kind of detective story I find irresistible. I have always enjoyed Patricia Moyes’s mysteries. Have I read all of these? Maybe. I’ll know when I read them.
In the contemporary fiction section, I found two books I have long meant to read. Nicole Krauss was nominated for the National Book Award for Great House, and that is an literary award I take seriously, possibly because the prize is judged by writers instead of journalists. (A few years ago the journalist judges of the Pulitzer Prize had a hissy fit and decided not to award the prize for fiction.) Kathryn Davis is a lyrical, original writer, and her novel The Walking Tour is one of my favorites. I am ridiculously behind in reading contemporary literature, and cannot believe I missed The Thin Place.
Similar covers on the two below, no? Both Tigers in Red Weather and The Other Typist got positive reviews, in 2012 and 2015 respectively. Summer reading?
And below are two more exciting finds. According to the jacket copy of Jane: “Meet Jane…34, single, an American journalist living in a colorful London loft with a cat…” I’m in! And Angela Lambert is the author of the wonderful novel, Love Among the Single Classes. Like so many literary novels by women, Kiss and Kin has a “pop fiction” cover, but I expect good things.
The Planned Parenthood Book Sale continues through 6 p.m. tomorrow.