Saturday, 19 June 2010

Book hunt!

Here are my trophies from a recent visit to Clarendon Books - my 2nd favourite used book store in Leicester. I hanged out there for about half an hour, perched in a narrow spilt between two dusty towering shelves, picking through the good, the bad and the mouldy, amused by the sounds of a little girl 's (pink tutu and a plastic crown in place) heated dispute with her toy poodle on the subject of their upcoming marriage engagement:)
Item 1:
The Adventures of the Black Girl in her search of God
written by George Bernard Shaw, 1st edition, 1932
designed and engraved by John Farleigh

Chosen for its amazing illustrations, and soon appreciated for the story itself: a thoughtfull funny fable based around the good old journey motif. Quote:
"The black girl, a fine creature, whose satin skin and shining muscles made the white missionary folk seem like ashen ghosts by contrast, was an interesting but unsatisfactory convert; for instead of taking Christianity with sweet docility exactly as it was administered to her, she met it with unexpected interrogative reactions which forced her teacher to improvise doctrinal replies and invent evidence on the spur of the moment to such an extent that at last she could not conceal from herself that the life of Christ, as she narrated it, had accreted so many circumstantial details and such a body of home made doctrine that the Evangelists would have been amazed and confounded if they had been alive to hear it all put forward on their authority. Indeed the missionary's choice of a specially remote station, which had been at first an act of devotion, very soon became a necessity, as the appearance of a rival missionary would have led to the discovery that though some of the finest plums in the gospel pudding concocted by her had been picked out of the Bible, and the scenery and dramatis personae borrowed from it, yet the resultant religion was, in spite of this element of compilation, really a product of the missionary 's own direct inspiration. Only as a solitary pioneer could she be her own Church and determine its canon without fear of being excommunicated as a heretic."

Item 2:
Omens - Poetry Magazine,
Volume 8, Numbers 1&2, December 1978,

bought immediately after finding this poem in it:
"The silence of a candle"
(Jazz Suite, no.9, after R. Towner)
unbroken in the growing motion of
this finite room.
Outside, somewhere
children divide up
pieces of the moon.
Here you chew on the roulette wheel
an old woman holds between her teeth.

There are blocks of ice in your bed,
& you wager on which will melt first.
Noisy as an eskimo
taking apart the snow

you are speaking in light.
You are the light

I wet my fingers
to extinguish.
- Michael Carlson
Item 3:
The Ghost in the Machine by Arthur Koestler

bought for a) the title, b) this juxtaposition of cathedrals and gargoyles:
"The creativity and pathology of the human mind are, after all, two sides of the same medal coined in the evolutionary mint. The first is responsible for the splendour of our cathedrals, the second for the gargoyles that decorate them to remind us that the world is full of monsters, devils and succubi. They reflect the streak of insanity which runs through the history of our species, and which indicates that somewhere along the line of its ascent to prominence something has gone wrong.":)
and c) for these quotes opening chapters XI and XIII:
"When you don't know where a road leads, it sure as hell will take you there"
- Leo Rosten
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars"
- Oscar Wilde
Item 4:
the Book Fair flyer
for its awesome design

totally going up on my wall:)
Item 5:
Travels in the Interior of Africa, by Mungo Park
Chosen for the illustrations, the time-space background of political incorrectness, and this insight into the origins of the expression "Mambo Jumbo":
"I arrived at Kolor, a considerable town, near the entrance into which I bserved, hanging upon a tree, a sort of masquerade habit, made of the bark of trees, which I was told on inquiry belonged to Mumbo Jumbo. This is a strange bugbear, common to all the Mandingo towns, and much employed by the pagan natives in keeping their women in subjection; for as the kafirs are not restricted in the number of their wives, every one marries as many as he can conveniently maintain; and as it frequently happens that the ladies disagree among themselves, family quarrels sometimes rise to such a height that the authority of the husband can no longer preserve peace in his household. In such cases, the interposition of Mumbo Jumbo is called in, and is always decisive.
This strange minister of justice (who is supposed to be either the husband himself, or some person instructed by him), disguised in the dress that has been mentioned, and armed with the rod of public authority, announces his coming (whenever his services are required) by loud and dismal screams in the woods near the town. He begins the pantomime at the approach of night; and as soon as it is dark he enters the town, and proceeds to the bentang, at which all inhabitants immediately assemble.
It may be easily be supposed thet this exhibition is not much relished by the women; for as the person in disguise is entirely unknown to them, every married female suspects the the visit may possibly be intended for herself; but they dare not refuse to appear when they are summoned; and the ceremony commences with songs and dances, which continue till midnight, about which time Mumbo Jumbo fixes on the offender. This unfortunate victim being thereupon immediately seized, is stripped naked, tied to a post, and severely scourged with Mumbo's rod, amidst the shouts and derision of the whole assembly; and it is remarkable that the rest of the women are the loudest in their exclamations on this occasion against their unhappy sister. Daylight puts and end to this indecent and unmanly revel."


  1. Clarendon books is possibly my favourite book shop too! I love it for it's cluttered tallness :) Which is your favourite. I've been told good things about Tin Drum on Narborough Rd but have yet to actually go in there.

  2. Dude! That's exactly it!:D They are awesome! The first time I went there, there was a huge dog and a cat inside, and they have cool stuff hanging off the ceiling, and they usually give me a discount, even though their books are the cheapest in town to begin with!:D They have a very decent sci-fi and fiction section!
    Go go go!:)

  3. I loved going to Tin Drum when I lived in the West End! I'd often spend a happy Saturday morning wandering down Narborough Road, starting with the Salvation Army charity shop (now closed I see - booo).

    I picked up some fab Nancy Drew books from there (for a bookcrossing project to send them to school libraries in Africa) and a kids book which I can't part with cos it's so good - The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown. She was only 14 when she started writing it in 1938 and the youthful exuberance really shines out of the pages.

  4. I discovered Janette Winterson's "Sexing the cherry" - which is an amazing book, one of my favourites. In fact I just bought an extra copy because it makes such a good present...
    You know what else is good about Tin Drum?! Mitaas - the veggie curry place across and down the road a bit. It's chilli paneer is the stuff of dreams - and it's not too spicy (unless you ask for it to be:). It's where I drag all my visitors to:)

  5. Wow, I'm gonna have to go there asap. I do have special affection for shops with pets, there's a place in town where I will now always go to buy cartridges for my printer because the first time I went there was a big chocolate coloured dog asleep in the corner :)


    I forgot to bring Sexing the Cherry with me, dammit. Totally forgot about it until you just mentioned it, in fact. Please to send.

    And yes, Tin Drum is the best, hands-down.

  7. Ooh! I just came across this cool grafitti - and I'm pretty sure it's inspired by the Oscar Wilde quote above:)

  8. That is beautiful! Is that in Leicester? Or did you just find the picture?

  9. Nah, I wish. I just found it on somebody else's blog:)