Friday, September 22, 2006

A day at the fair

There's no way I could sit at home today and work, knowing that less than a km from my desk was a hall full of books going cheep! cheep! cheep!

Mama Duck answered the call.

I give generously to Lifeline twice a year because it's such a good idea. You give money to the charity, and take home books! I'd give money to ANY charity who can do this as well as Lifeline do, but I also think their service is an essential one. Onya Lifeline.

There's a ritual to the Lifeline Fair that has to be maintained:

the line

1. Thou must line up before it starts. If you turn up later in the day, you can just stroll in and all sense of TEH HUNT is lost. You may show that you are seasoned veteran by bringing a stool, a hat, and a thermos of hot beverage. [The arrows above indicate, by their size, the direction of the queue winding its way around the EPIC carpark. I've also indicated a seasoned person, who hasn't yet become a true veteran for she forgot her hat. I am usually in the middle of the queue, but thanks to a few prior commitments had to join the end of it, ten minutes before the doors opened. Phew.]

Eventually you get within view of Xanadu.

2. Thou must bring a book-carrying receptacle. This can be a trolley, a rolling suitcase, or, dear god, a pram carrying a child who is happy to be squashed.

Sorry for the awful quality of the shot. I just pointed and clicked, not wanting to waste good book-scouting time. This next one is clearer but smaller, taken last year on the 2nd or 3rd day:

3. Thou must not run into the hall screeching and drooling. This is very uncool and must be left to the Military History nuts.

4. Thou must fully interact with power games. These include: finding out who of two people on the same side of the table but moving in different directions has to go around whom; who gets to pick up that book if you both reach for it; who can be closest to the person laying out a fresh batch of books.


Some years I notice themes. One year (and I think every year) the place was overrun by Bryce Courtaney. This year, in the Biog section, anyway, there was a plague of Frank McCourt. Look:

Frank holds court

and again, further down on the same table:

Frank holds court here too

There are three types of FMcC books in that second photo. It's like an easy version of Where's Wally.

In the Australian fiction section (there's a few, you have to be canny to find all the good books) I ran into a Friend of the Duck who is an academic at one of Canberra's unis and has a shared love of odd books. Snaps to him for giving me the hardback first edition of The Vivisector on the spot when I drooled at it (my paperback copy has fallen to bits with this rereading). Together we found an entire shelf's worth of hardback Nevil Shute, not first edition, but all with the most glorious dustjackets, $5 each. If he hadn't wanted them I would have taken two or three, but I'm glad he did because it would have been heartbreaking to separate such a beautiful collection:

a trolley of Nevils

Five of the piles on this trolley are Nevils. Sigh.

Speaking of collections, there was a new section of ephemera, and look what I saw:

They were selling someone's entire matchbox collection for $100. And, I suspect, the same person's beer coaster collection:


So, this is what I got today.

-- various Star Wars teen novels, comics and a puzzle book for Bumblebee
-- various other comics for BB, like Mad and Casper, etc.
-- various puzzle/novel books (where you have to work out stuff to get to the next chapter)
-- The photographic storybook of the movie Return to Oz, something I just can't find anymore even on ex-rental video.
-- Winnie in Winter by Korky Paul & Valerie Thomas (love that witch)
-- The Two Old Bachelors by Edward Lear, illustrated by Paul Galdone
-- Witch Week by Diana Wynne-Jones (already had it, but this can be my lending copy)

-- Prints from Blocks, Riva Castleman
-- Japanese Prints, Celia Whitford
-- Charles Blackman, Ray Mathew

Books on Books
-- The Gutenberg Revolution, John Man
-- Pocket Pal, associated pulp & paper mills (this one intrigued me, because it was produced in Melbourne for an American company but all the photos are of Canberra)

This was a goldmine today. These are all hardback unless specified.
-- Southern Steel, Dymphna Cusack
-- Heatwave in Berlin, Dymphna Cusack (already have, but this has gorgeous dustjacket)
-- Grand Days, Frank Moorehouse
-- The Eye of the Storm, Patrick White (1st edn with dustjacket $8)
-- The Vivisector, Patrick White (1st edn, $9)
-- Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
-- Model Wife: My Life with Norman Lindsay, Rose Lindsay
-- Come in Spinner, Dymphna Cusack & Florence James (original, edited version)
-- The Battlers, Kylie Tennant
-- Tell Morning This, Kylie Tennant
-- I can Jump Puddles, Alan Marshall
-- Larger than Life, Xavier Herbert (1st edn with dustjacket, VERY good nick, $7!)
-- Daphne & Chloe, trans & illus. by Jack Lindsay

Very thin selection this time. Bit disappointing. And no sign of She Vomits Like a Lady.
-- Collectd Poems, CP Cavafy
-- woops, forgot to add Australian Poetry 1948, edited by Judith Wright

-- The Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang
-- One-Upmanship by Stephen Potter

and two dying hardback Georgette Heyers in need of makeovers: Devil's Cub and Spring Muslin. I might start a shelf series!

Enough already. Teej has suggested a competition to see who can buy the weirdest book, but I didn't get the challenge until I'd come home with this lot. So I shall go back on Sunday, when everything is further discounted (!) and all the tasteful books have been kindly removed and taken to good homes by caring people and see what wonders remain. Maybe we should have a Sunday arvo blogmeet at the fair?


Zoe said...

What was Teh Bottom Line, Ducky?

Sunday afternoon blogmeet at the bookfair sounds choice. Perhaps we could make the short hop from there to the George Harcourt or Tilleys and compare our purchases in the sun?

Teej Mahal said...

Sounds divine. I may drag my poor crippled mother along as well though - be warned!

Anonymous said...

oooh Rose Lindsay's take on naughty norman will be interesting. Have you been to the lindsay house/garden/grotto/print gallery at Faulconbridge? They have very serious graphic panels about norman's sleazy sessions with the models while rose slaved away making his prints.

Georg Hibberd said...

Thanks for this wonderful post. Good to see that book-nuts are the same everywhere - completely bonkers. I love it.

Val said...

What a coincidence: I was just about to email you about my success in making my own matchbox this morning (to fit in a miniature book), and there I see someone's matchbox collection. MIL used to have a couple hundred in a huge glass bowl - fun to look through.

Enjoyed the nice sequence of photos and practical commandmants. I would have failed on the drool rule btw.

Ampersand Duck said...

Yes, I have seen Springwood, and those panels whet my appetite for this book. Although I don't knwo how much she's going to share :)

You have to be bonkers with books. It's all or nothing.

I forgot to mention, that coaster collection was only $50.

BTW, my total bill was $145, after I'd given myself a budget of $100. I don't think I wasted much money. Plus, I'm pretty close to my birthday (a rationalisation a day keeps the guilts away).

How about meeting on Sunday 3.00 at the outside entrance, Canbloggers? That gives us an hour. A ticking clock is good for frantic searching. If you're not good under pressure, maybe 2.30?

comicstriphero said...

Youse are all going to end up on A Current Affair or something as those people who have houses full to the ceiling of 'stuff'.

Ampersand Duck said...

Yeah, baby.

Anonymous said...

Are the books you listed old and out of print? Especially the Australian ones?

Ampersand Duck said...

Yep, secondhand all of them, donated to Lifeline by the highly literate Canberra community. I will be dropping off a box of my unwanteds tomorrow if I go back.

Many of that list would be out of print, but even if they are still in print, reprints of classic Australian fiction are often ugly and cheap-looking, photographed from old settings and printed badly. I'd rather have a shabby original copy any day.

comicstriphero said...

Oh well, plenty of fuel when the book-burning mobiles come to town...

Thanks Steve Fielding!

Ampersand Duck said...

Heh. Why don't you come and see what you can find tomorrow? I'm hoping for cat fun in the pet section.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing that in a city of 300,000 or however many, Canberrans can come up with such an impressive collection of second-hand books. Amazing and a bit unfair.

We've been looking at houses on and only one in a hundred living rooms actually has a few books inside. Mostly it's just the giant TV.

So, what else did you get today?

Matthew da Silva said...

I can't BELIEVE you didn't pick up that Gay Talese!!!

Teej Mahal said...

Sorry I missed you after all that. Didn't see the timing message.

I ended up going early in the morning to snaffle the good'uns.

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

oh man... I just haven't been able to let myself near a book fair recently. I'm too much of a book slut... too many delicious choices... and I can't control myself... one day, my house will explode and books will burst out all over the inner west and shower down apon the unsuspecting.

book fairs are just too hard to cope with :)

Ampersand Duck said...

I don't know who Gay Talese is, Dean!
Tell me about him/her! Am I being pig ignorant?

Matthew da Silva said...

Gay Talese is one of the big names in literary journalism. You know, non-fiction that is written in a 'writerly' style. Along with Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer, in the sixties and seventies, he pioneered, in the U.S., this new journalism. He's not as famous as Hunter S. Thompson, but his work is absolutely superb.

You're not being pig ignorant, but if you know about journalism, he's a really big name. I would've snapped it up in a millisecond.