January 5th, 2006

Tom Lehrer is Smug

(no subject)

You may not understand the glee I found myself in after finding a copy of "Always Something Doing" at McIntyre & Moore tonight, but believe me, finding it provided the very glee, the precise moment of joy that used bookstore aficionados so crave. For me, the joy comes in finding an unexpected surprise. A book you've always wanted, but never really gone out and looked for. Aggressive searching doesn't count -- it has to be more of a "Hmm, while I'm here, might as well see..." That didn't even happen tonight. I wasn't in a "While I'm here" mood; I was just looking for a book to pass the time at Rosebud before Pete showed up.

It's also totally Against The Rules to use Amazon. Seriously, where's the fun in that? Oh, look, two copies left at $18.95 each! No serendipitous squeal of glee comes from me over that. Besides, I got mine for less than a third of that cost. And I didn't have to wait for shipping.

I should also shamefully admit I'm a sucker for first printings and/or older cover designs. I dislike a lot of the new trends in cover designs, especially mixed

and styles

and I cringe if I can only find, say, a work of fiction whose cover has a picture of someone featured in the movie adaptation. I don't want that copy. I wasn't interested in the book 'cause of the movie and I don't want anybody making such Base Assumptions, either. It also goes without saying that, for the longest time, the covers of the American editions of Terry Pratchett novels were horrendously ugly and I felt they totally betrayed the prosey goodness within.

What was that? Somebody said something? Snuh snuh snuh book by its cover, or somesuch? Huh. I didn't hear anything. Must've been the wind.

Anyway. The real treat comes when you're just idly glossing over shelf after shelf of printed offerings and suddenly your eyes lock onto a title you've known for a while. "Always Something Doing"... that was the motto of the Old Howard Theatre, wasn't it? And that means this is ... yes!

And so you bring the book out from the confines of the shelf, clutch it tightly to your bosom, and sigh happily. Then you gently whisper to the book that you're going to take it home, read it a hundred times, and promise never to drip chocolate ice cream on the pages or let the cat chew on the binding.

The book I'm so happy to find, by the way, is a locally-writ history of Scollay Square, Boston's original Combat Zone. 22 streets and a zillion buildings devoted, in its heyday, to burlesque houses, hot dog stands, and for some odd reason painless dentistry. But I digress. The whole shebang was gutted in 1963 to make way for the completely soulless Government Center/City Hall complex (Boston's vibrant West End was also simultaneously demolished to make way for high-rise condos) and we're all the poorer for it.