May Book Haul: The Finale, Part 2

The second half of the May Book Haul, continued from Part 1.

7. The Trial by Franz Kafka


Another one I should have read by now but haven’t. Irresistible Picador paperback with an ET-looking Kafka on the cover. I’m hoping the translation is decent.

8. Son of a Smaller Hero by Mordecai Richler


Richler is always a favourite, especially for his depictions of midcentury Montreal. This one was first published in 1955, making it one of his earliest works.

9. Essais, Tome II by Montaigne


I try to read in French once in awhile, and this guy invented the essay so there’s no way I could ever spring for an English translation. Didn’t expect to find a French edition in Calgary, but that’s why book sales are fun.

I don’t care that it’s missing the other volumes because this alone could be enough Montaigne for a lifetime.

10. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois


This one’s essential and I’m ashamed I haven’t read it before. I’ll fix that soon. It was one of those finds that went into the bag as soon as I saw it.

I once had a professor explain to us how Canadians always mispronounce DuBois’s name. DuBois is American, of course, and his name rhymes with voice, not jaw. For some reason this correction stuck with me, and I think of it every time I see the name. True purists of French will never back down, however.

11. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood


My final Atwood find, 1972’s Surfacing. Not sure why I chose this one out of all the others, except that I tend to look for early stuff by authors I like so I can fill in their beginnings.

12. The Strange Death of Liberal England by George Dangerfield


Here’s an odd thing: I was more excited about this find than almost any other. Why? I first heard about The Strange Death of Liberal England long ago in some archival TV appearance of Christopher Hitchens from his socialist days (lots of titles, good and bad, found their way onto my shelf this way). The title especially was intriguing, and “The Strange Death of…” formula has been copied often since 1935 when this esoteric look at pre-WWI British politics was published.

So I wanted to look into this thing, and without a hope of ever finding it in stores, I memorized where it lived at the library and would read passages of it whenever I had a spare few minutes in the area (I was no longer a student, so I couldn’t check it out). I never got through the whole thing and eventually moved on, but it was always there on my list of books to watch for.

So to have finally found, by complete chance, a copy of this brings me greater joy than reading it probably ever will.

13. Booze by James H. Gray


Rounding out this book haul is an even more obscure bit of history. Booze found its way onto my reading list by way of Mordecai Richler, who cited it along with Gray’s Red Lights on the Prairies in the bibliography of his great novel Solomon Gursky Was Here. That novel was my introduction to Canada’s prairie rumrunning history, and this shall be my full lesson.

*  *  *  *  *

Done. Now that you know what I got and why, I can put these away and post about other books. Because the collecting never stops.



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