Sunday, September 6, 2009

I have in my arms the scarecrow and the bells of saint babel's etc.

Books for Africa, as my friend Maggie would say! The Giant Book Fair at TSB arena [on again today] yielded up for me: The Scarecrow - r.h.morrieson, The Bells of Saint Babel's - allen curnow, Blindsight - maurice gee, Mary Shelley - muriel spark, Not her real name - emily perkins [signed], In search of a character - graham greene, I have in my arms both ways - adrienne jansen, Big Wellington - o'brien/white, some travel books for my husband [a pico iyer, a theroux and dessaix's book on turgenev which I also intend to read], and an alastair cooke book of essays plus the Henry Root Letters for my dad [for father's day].

My children got a restrained bag-full each, and Penny and Elsie and Quentin between them lugged out enough books to fill a couple of suitcases. I saw Maggie there, and her own magnificent haul is detailed in a comment on the previous post. I envy her the Patrick Leigh Fermor and the Jan Morris - a hard-back, no less.

She mentions how I'd spotted both our novels on the NZ Fiction table. It was an odd moment seeing The Blue there - I checked and it was a first edition with a Montana award sticker on the front, in good condition, too. Read? Who knows. I put it back with its spine out and mentioned it to Elsie who was piling up short story collections elegantly on her forearm, and she smiled something reassuring back, and then the woman next to her said, does she want that book? - nodding at me and The Blue. And Elsie said, no, she wrote it. Oh! said the woman, I loved that book! Oh! I said. Really? That's wonderful! And it really really was.

Later, after a rummage through Travel and Essays and General Fiction, after seeing a man yelp as he leapt on Ed Hillary's book about Everest, after a chat about whaling with Ken from the Maritime Museum over old copies of Landfall, after admiring Quentin's copy of some fabulous biography that slips my mind and Issy's book about the Titanic and Paul's book of Cheever stories, I came back to NZ Fiction. And The Blue was gone.

2 comments: said...

Unless you have two friends called Maggie, then I can't take the credit for your introductory line about "Books for Africa" ... it was me you heard explaining the saying "... for Africa" when Kirsty was here (she'd never heard of this particular turn of phrase before and was intrigued), but not something that I ever say (just to defend myself)... but it was said in regard to a very large bowl of delicious pudding at our literary lunch by another to remained un-named attendee... Oh, I'm full of aphorisms, and homilies, but against cliches I defend myself :)

Mary McCallum said...

Oh yes, 'Pudding for Africa' - not you, Maggie, then, someone else... apologies!I went to the Book Fair again on Sunday and found Alistair MacLeod short stories and a few other little treasures before the doors finally closed...