We’d love to live in Omaha. It’s fun to visit a big city, and we like the understated Midwestern hipness. You can shop in the Old Market area, visit the Joslyn Art Museum, go to concerts, and, best of all, browse at Jackson Street Booksellers.
Will we drive three hours to a bookstore? Yes, we will. We passed yellow soybean fields and windmill farms and finally crossed the bridge from Council Bluffs to Omaha. We headed straight to the Old Market so we could browse at Jackson Street Booksellers, a great used bookstore.
I picked up several books and carried them around the store because I couldn’t decide which to buy–a lot of Anita Brookner, an adorable Penguin omnibus of mysteries, and some nice editions of Trollope–but iI limited myself to four books. I am so disciplined!
So here’s what I bought!
1. I’d never heard of the Brazilian writer Rachel de Queiroz, but was intrigued by the cover art on this 1975 paperback of Dora, Doralina, translated by Dorothy Scott Loos. De Queiroz (1910-2003) was a novelist, journalist, and translator who, in 1966, was a Brazilian delegate to the UN. She won many awards, including the Camões Prize in 1993.
And she has a statue in Brazil! I do want to go to Brazil.
2 Kate Braverman is a poet and fiction writer. Her 1979 novel, Lithium for Medea, used to be in every bookstore. Somehow it never appealed to me. Did I even know what Lithium was?
Anyway, I was drawn by this 1989 Penguin Contemporary American Fiction edition, because I was always fond of this “yuppieback” series. And her prose is stunning! I’m racing through it.
The Goodreads description says,
“Lithium for Medea is a tale of addiction: to drugs, physical love, and dysfunctional family chains. It is also a tale of mothers and daughters, their mutual rebellion and unconscious mimicry. Rose grew up with an emotionally crippled, narcissistic mother while her father, a veteran gambler, spent his waking hours in the garden cut off from his wife’s harangues. Now an adult, Rose works her way through a string of unhealthy love(less) affairs. After a brief, unhappy marriage, she slips more deeply and dangerously into the lair of a parasitic, cocaine-fed artist whose sensual and manipulative ways she grows addicted to in the bohemian squalor of Venice.”
It is depressing, but somehow I can take this now that I’ve Lived a While and Seen a Few Things I Would Rather Have Not.
3. I missed Virago Month, but here’s the good news: I found a Virago at the bookstore, Fanny Burney’s Cecilia. I am fond of 18th-century novels, and enjoyed Burney’s Evelina, so look forward to this.
4. We were very excited to find an Everyman copy of John Updike’s The Complete Henry Bech, sans book jacket, for $6: Bech: A Book (1970), Bech Is Back (1982), Bech at Bay (1998), and the short story His Oeuvre (2000). My husband and I are both fans of Updike.
Here’s the Goodreads description:
“From his birth in 1923 to his belated paternity and public apotheosis as a spry septuagenarian in 1999, Bech plugs away, globetrotting in the company of foreign dignitaries one day and schlepping in tattered tweeds on the college lecture circuit the next. By turns cynical and naïve, wry and avuncular, and always amorous, he is Updike’s most endearing confection-a Lothario, a curmudgeon, and a winsome literary icon all in one. A perfect forum for Updike’s limber prose, The Complete Henry Bech is an arch portrait of the literary life in America from an incomparable American writer.”
HERE’S WHAT MY HUSBAND BOUGHT IN OMAHA! Only one book.
1. Uwe Johnson’s Speculations about Jakob. My husband is mad about this award-winning German writer, and recommends Arrivals. Here is a link to an article about Johnson in The Millions.