I love the Newberry Library book fair - it’s a great way to find some old, out-of-print books for a stupidly cheap price. I missed the first two days, and if you go too late, then you’ll miss out on the best books. One year, I went on the last day, and I had to pick over the left-overs – not fun, as all that were left were old pamphlets, out-of-date magazines, and books that no one wanted to see.
This was the third day of the fair, and I went up early, so there were lots of books still left. What’s also awesome about the fair is that the books were separated by genre – though within each genre, the books are just sorta thrown in so you have to go through and dig. Still, I found quite a few books and CDs as well as a VHS (!).
A fun aside: while looking through the videos, I came across the John Wayne comedy Hatari! I’ve never heard of it, and my partner mentioned it being a favorite of his mother’s; he got it a bit confused with The Quiet Man, and mentioned a scene where Wayne drags his fiery spitfire leading lady, Maureen O’Hara, with the encouragement of the fictional Irish townspeople who insist she be beaten by a stick. A woman looking through the CDs overheard us and piped in, enthusing about how good Hatari! and The Quiet Man were: my partner and she also bonded over the soundtrack of Hatari! - specifically the Henry Mancini.
Anyways, I had a good haul for only $40.
Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis - I’ve seen the Rosalind Russell 1958 comedy a million times, and the icky Lucille Ball musical version just a few times less. Dennis is a funny writer – very funny – one of my favorite novels was The Joyous Season (see my review of the book by clicking here). Auntie Mame is the story of an eccentric woman who “inherits” her nephew from her recently-departed brother. She takes this kid on a life of crazy adventures, while she tries to be a good mom. The edition I found is pretty awesome, too – a pulp edition, with this awful cover of Mame and her millionaire hubby Beau, eying each other hungrily on a grand bed (with a ridiculous, brass headboard).
Isnt’t it great??? Just like one of those pulpy “forbidden love” covers…
A Shabby Genteel Story and Other Writings by W.M. Thackery – I’ve only read Vanity Fair, and loved it, so I found this in the “short story collections” section. Touted as “satirical stories of domestic folly and social climbing.” I remember the savage humor of Vanity Fair, and I love books that are funny, so I thought it’d be great to read it.
The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American by Jeff Smith – Jeff Smith was one of my favorite PBS personalities. His show The Frugal Gourmet was a great, fun show, where Smith supposedly brought together high-end cuisine with reasonable prices. Smith’s career was derailed when he was accused by some men of molestation. He settled out of court, but his career ended. They don’t release his shows on DVD, which is too bad, but you can still find his books. TFGCA has Smith’s trademark folksy narrative as he describes the historical context of the recipes. In this book, he goes over traditional American recipes – there’s a lot here about the presidents of the United States and their favorite foods.
The Frugal Gourmet: Whole Family Cookbook by Jeff Smith – they had a lot of Smith’s books, and this one looked good, too, so I picked it up.
3 Black Chicks Review Flicks: A Film and VIdeo Guide with Flava! by the Diva, Bams, and Cass – I loved reading the 3 Black Chicks’ reviews of movies – they’ve got encyclopaedic knowledge of film, but they write in a really funny and engaging fashion - they sometimes will write their reviews and make notes about how the film relates to a black audience – which is great, I just wish they’d devote more than just one chapter solely to black filmmaking; maybe a followup with their takes on black cinema would be very interesting as they are great at writing about film theory – and the little that is written about black cinema and black audiences would work for a book on its own.
Small World by David Lodge – The last book I read that announced itself as a satire on academe was Jane Smiley’s overrated Moo (see my less-than enthusiastic review by clicking here). I found this in the humor section, in a table – I had to overhear two pretentious “scholars” share some ridiculous jokes with each other, delivered in voices dripping in feigned intellect that I thought they were performing in some kind of skit. I’ve never heard of Lodge, but the cover looked cute (I know, I know…I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover). The blurbs also promised some great laughs, so I thought it’d be a good pick up: and it was only a dollar.
The Clothes They Stood Up In/The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett - Bennett’s wrote the beautiful collection of monologues - Talking Heads – and Eileen Atkins did a great job in the stage version of The Lady in the Van. Bennett’s one of the funniest British writers.
For Our Children, various artists: I love this CD -a collection of pop songs/lullabies by a group of celebs and musicians. The songs’ productions are very early 1990s – David Foster’s pillowy soft-pop sheen is all over the album. Also, some of the performers also scream early 1990s: Paula Abdul, Debbie Gibson, Ziggy Marley; but some classic pop icons are included as well like Bob Dylan, Sting, Paul McCartney, Little Richard, Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Heart, Carole King. The songs are well sung – some of the artists do better than the others – the biggest surprise is the standout track: a lovely version of “Gartan Mother’s Lullaby” by Meryl Streep – it’s a bit Judy Collins, but she’s got a lovely voice. Also surprising is how engaging and pretty Abdul’s version of “Good Night, My Love (Pleasant Dreams)” is, though its production (courtesy of Don Was) sounds like it was left off her 1991 hit Spellbound.
Hush by Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin – apparently this is a kid’s CD, but I never thought so. McFerrin and Ma did some PBS specials together, and I’ve been looking for this CD. I like McFerrin - he’s more than just his one pop hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – and Ma is one of my favorite classical musicians.
“American Life” by Madonna – I had this CD-single years ago, and couldn’t find it – the remixes are pretty great – one of them being with Missy Elliott. This isn’t Madonna’s greatest single, nor was it a big hit. It was controversial for a few reasons, mainly because of her naff rap in the middle of the song, and also because the accompanying video was very anti-George Bush and against the war in Iraq, during the early days of the war when it was still a popular war among Americans. The song isn’t as politcal (it’s yet another in a long list of songs she writes about fame), but I think Madonna should get major props for standing up for her ideals.
Let It Die, Feist – Feist is a cool indie artist who got mainstream success when her “1234″ song became a pop hit and used in TV commercials. This is her debut album - because I like everything else she did, I picked it up – I don’t know this album, but it’s got a great reputation.
The Hours (Music from the Motion Picture), Phillip Glass – you either love Glass or hate him; he’s one of my favorite 20th century classical composer. He uses repetitive riffs that recall in the movie recurring themes. There are also great mournful strings. Unlike a lot of other scores – especially John Williams or Thomas Newman - Glass’ work on The Hours is pretty subtle and unadorned.
Finally, I bought my partner a corduroy binder (yup, you read that right), that had some reports from the 1960s written by some political strategists about the possible success of the Republican party – interestingly enough, the authors of the reports were recommending that the Republican Party distances itself from the extreme fringe of the Right and embrace moderate politics – nice and timely now, in light of the crackpot Republicans in power now; also fun is a report on Ronald Reagan’s suitibility as leader of the Republican Party (according to the report, he wasn’t suited – funny how correct the report was).
So, all cost me $40, including a couple bucks donated to the Newberry.
Also, I carried all this crap in my work tote bag – I wanted the people in the streets of Chicago to know how awesome my place of employment is.