Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Should I go back and pick up this book?

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This afternoon, I literally stumbled across a hardback edition of Havanas in Camelot: Personal Essays by William Styron, the noted American novelist and essayist. It was for sale on a footpath in South Mumbai, one among a hundred-odd books strewn over a plastic sheet. The 176-page book, published by Random House in 2008, was in mint condition and selling for Rs.30 (less than 50 cents). 

The back of the book said, "After the great success in 1990 of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, his memoir of depression and recovery, William Styron wrote more frequently in an introspective, autobiographical mode. Havanas in Camelot brings together fourteen of his personal essays, including a reminiscence of his brief friendship with John F. Kennedy; memoirs of Truman Capote, James Baldwin, and Terry Southern; a meditation on Mark Twain; an account of Styron’s daily walks with his dog; and an evocation of his summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. These essays, which reveal a reflective and humorous side of Styron’s nature, make possible a fuller assessment of this enigmatic man of American letters."

I have never read Styron before though I'm aware of his work such as Lie Down in Darkness, The Long March, and Sophie's Choice. Although I enjoy reading personal essays by famous writers and authors, I decided against buying it because I own far too many books that I haven't read. But do you think I made a mistake? Would you have bought the book without a second thought? And should I also have picked up the Ruth Rendell paperback peeping out from under the pyramid of used books? I hate to make these choices.

20 comments:

  1. Hmm, I would go back and get the Rendell, but chances are I would have snagged it first time around. This one wouldn't have appealed to me to be honest.

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    1. Col, I already have a couple of novels by Ruth Rendell that I hope to read in her memory.

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  2. I read The long march. Been a long time

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  3. I would have the same struggle over it, Prashant, but I probably would've taken it home.

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    1. Oscar, I went back the next day but it was sold. My loss, I guess.

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  4. Wow what a bargain - should be a great read Prashant. SOPHIE'S CHOICE may be his masterpiece - and the film was pretty good too actually.

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    1. Sergio, I might have seen SOPHIE'S CHOICE which I know to be a popular film even today. I have not read the book.

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  5. I thought I had read all of his work but not this one!

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    1. Patti, it was a good hardback edition and I regret not picking it up.

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  6. I'm a compulsive aggregator of books, so the wrong one to ask (the young she-cat wetted down some magazines in her anxiety over the older she-cat, and I just discovered them to my heartbreak this morning...including SIGHT AND SOUND, a magazine Sergio writes for). But at 50c a throw, you could always make a gift or donation of it if it becomes clutter...

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    1. Todd, I know the feeling. I once lost some rare Indian comics to termites and I haven't forgotten it yet.

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  7. It's so difficult to leave book bargains behind, and this does sound interesting. I read Sophie's Choice and agree with Sergio above - it's a masterpiece. But somehow I never read anything else by him. So I would have been tempted by the streetside pile....

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    1. Moira, I come across a lot of bargain books though I seldom buy them as I want to reduce my existing pile of books first.

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  8. This book of essays does sound very interesting, Prashant. I might have bought it. But I believe in fate, whatever will be, will be. Maybe it wasn't the right time.

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    1. Tracy, on hindsight, I should have given in to temptation. It wasn't there the next day.

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  9. My thoughts mimic Patti. This is a new one for me.

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    1. David, I plan to read Styron but don't know when.

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  10. I would have bought the Rendell, left this one behind. Or else, done what you did, and bought neither.

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    1. Richard, I have a couple of unread Rendells and thought I'd read them first before buying any more. Her novels are easier to obtain.

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