Thursday, July 19, 2007


Let’s face it, books that end up on the sidewalk are usually thrown out for a reason. Occasionally, though, you run across something that catches your eye. I suppose it’s all a matter of timing. Finding a good free book is along the lines of Beckett’s longing for happiness, “We spend our life trying to bring together in the same instant a ray of sunshine and a free bench.” I found two books this morning on Amity Street: Doug Henwood’s After the New Economy and Alan Tennant’s On the Wing: To The Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon, both right up my alley. The pinko environmentalist alley, that is. “Hippie/Goth” someone suggested recently as a description of my melded persona, but since I eschew the funereal garb and the kohl eyes, I think hippie/post-punk is more appropriate.

If I don’t want to keep these books I’ll put them on the sidewalk and maybe someone else…

Right now I’m reading G. B. Edward’s novel, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page the monologue of an old coot of a Guernseyman. Hard to put it down, for its wonderful storytelling, evocation of a place I knew next to nothing about, and appealingly flinty characters. A welcome follow-up to A Savage War of Peace, Alistair Horne’s history of the Algerian war for independence, a book that makes your better class of thrillers seem like very small beer indeed. Before this recent re-printing, copies were being hawked on e-bay for $150 because the War Department (come on, “Defense Department” is bullshit re-branding) couldn’t get enough of the disturbing parallels with Iraq. Let’s hope they don’t get any ideas about a putsch, like the one that tried to topple de Gaulle, or going underground to whack their civilian leaders; but do consider the political stresses put on them (as we inhabit the bogus drama called “Waiting for Petraeus”). I’ve been joting other notes about this book over at the Secret Commonwealth.

Overheard at the Co-op: Referring to some Yukon Gold spuds, “That’s what Jack London used to make mashed potatoes.”

1 comment:

Doug Henwood said...

Omigod, my book is for sale on the street! Humiliating and democratic all at the same time!