I was fortunate enough to meander up to Uptown Whittier a few weeks ago and run across Half Off Book's quarterly "fire sale." Half Off used to be known as The Little Olde Bookshop, a Whittier mainstay for several years--the new owners have done a fine job with the place. The discounts at this sale were obscene...I snatched up a copy of Carson McCullers' "Reflections in a Golden Eye" for fifty cents and a Michael McClure collection called "September Blackberries"...so I suppose that's where my reading list began. I'm an enormous fan of Carson McCullers and "Reflections" is the one book of hers I haven't read--it was made into a film with Marlon Brando around '67 or '68...fantastic word feast as always. I know McClure from his play "The Beard" and as a member of the beat poetry scene...and he was also in "The Last Waltz" (the film of The Band's final concert in 1976) reading from Chaucer. His work is very interesting and is something I'd recommend to fans of the second half of 20th Century poetry--I'm glad I was able to scoop it up for two bits, because as an out-of-print book the original price tag was daunting and I otherwise would have passed it up. I guess the main point I want to make here is that books should only cost fifty cents. Then we'd all be scholars.
I might re-read Voltaire's "Candide". But who cares?
The truly wonderful thing about the internet other than my ability to open a blog and drone on publicly for the entertainment of one and a half people is the diverse and epic scope of literary magazines that are online--there are so many amazing poets and writers out there that can be discovered free of charge or for a lot less here on the internet than a new hardbound Barnes and Noble buy. So there's the point to this ramble: Check out the up-and-comers and unknowns that are churning out fantastic literature and support the small presses--that's where the gold is. Make that a part of your summer reading list. Skip "The Girl Who Jumped into the Fire Trampolines Waving a Bee's Nest" for now and spread the love and appreciation to the small presses out there. You'll be glad that you did.