April 15, 2008

National Bookbinge

Oftentimes, patience pays off. Waiting for something to arrive and pouncing upon it at the right time gives one the thrill of victory. It's a victory of scoring a very very good bargain. And now, it's hunting season inside the National Bookstore bins. I usually go for the bargain books, and though most imported books sport a 20% discount, it's the 50+% books that I chase. My last trip to the local provincial branch yielded some pretty exciting tomes, namely:

1. Vintage Twins (Crime) 40% discount - twin volumes that share a common theme and in this case: crime. Dostoevsky's seminal novel, Crime & Punishment is paired by Patricia Highsmiths' Ripley's Game. The special thing about C&P is that its current translation is the best. The much-acclaimed translator team of Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky did this one and critics say it's the best out there. Also, Ripley's Game is one of the later segments of her "Ripleiad"- meaning that this volume is the sequel to her first work, The Talented Mr. Ripley which I am sure everyone is familiar with since there's a movie of the same name.

2. Vintage Twins (Fantasy) 40% discount - in this twinning comes Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Haruki Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. Actually, I don't care for Alice and her wonderland. She can just wallow there for all I care but as for Murakami's work, ahh... that's another species altogether. If you're interested in the Japan that's urbane, quirky, sanitized, then this volume might pique your interest. It's quite interesting to note that in such sterile society, Haruki can come up with the most surreal of all plots. It's a keeper.

3. Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (50% discount) is one of those rare gems that crop up once in a decade. This is a low-key novel by award-winning Dai Sijie where it talks about the dire effect of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution wherein all Western ideas and products were deemed decadent. The prose is sparse and intimate, and the characters well-formed. And for only P125, this is never decadent.

4. Paul Auster's New York Trilogy (40% discount)- this is a bargain for this volume comprises of three novels which normally would cost an arm and a leg. I got this for P140-. I'm not sure whether the bookstore knows how to use the calculator in converting foreign currencies, or this was just serendipity. Auster's Trilogy does not contain your normal linear plotline. It uses the tools in mystery novels and yet it's not a mystery- more of philosophical ruminations of history and life itself. The prose is interesting without being pedantic, the plot Murakami-esque signifying a not-so-delectable resolution. Nevertheless, it's a bargain.

5. Marquis de Sade's Juliette (40% discount) - Ahhh... au bon livre. C'est parfait! This is the bible for atheists and libertines. Marquis is a genius, a philosopher, for he skews the prevailing Catholic faith's grip over the morals of the French people during that time. Remember, de Sade wrote this during the time of the French Revolution, thus, not only was there political upheaval but also spiritual turbulence as well. His views espouse hedonism, self-promotion, and amorality all thinly disguised as novel of decadence. As for the purchase, this work is scarce and not mass-produced, hence the price was a bit higher. Nonetheless, a perfect counterpoint to the book, "The Purpose Driven Life."

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