Used bookstores are seemingly more plentiful and generally quirkier in NZ than they are here in the states. I went into every one I could find (duh). I pulled a couple things out of Gone West Books (in Titirangi, a neighborhood in / close suburb of Auckland) that seemed of probably interest to readers of this blog. First, there was this hardbound book that practically leapt off the “NZ Fiction” shelf and into my hands. You ever have that experience, where a book seems to Shout at you from the shelves, even if it’s not particularly flashy or specially displayed? Yeah, that’s what happened here:
There’s something so simple, elemental, and badass about this design. I found myself thinking “Why don’t more books like this?” Slightly frantic font set off against the slightly frantic geometrical linear configuration. Hot and cool at the same time. Minimal but substantial. Colorful, but with a B&W feel. Love! I also love the back cover, where we get to learn a thing or two about our author:
Armed! Only other armed author I’ve seen on a paperback cover is Spillane! I’m so reading this.
The other book I pulled out of that shop is less surprising, but no less intriguing:
How am I supposed to resist this? The genius of Penguin design, the beat-upness of a good book well read, the Chandler of Chandler of Chandler. I didn’t even ask ‘how much?’ (answer: more than it was worth, less than I would’ve gladly paid). If I had to design a book to read on a train, it would look like this. I think it would *be* this. HOWEVER, I completely forgot that, for reasons I now forget, Philip Marlowe was not called Philip Marlowe in the UK editions of Chandler’s work (despite the fact that the playwright Marlowe was British, and the fact that Marlowe evolved out of the earlier Mallory—another important British writer (minus one “l”)). Instead, the detective is called Johnny Dalmas. You would not think a simple name change would affect my reading pleasure. You would be dead wrong. I just couldn’t get past it. Marlowe is so far from a “Johnny” that I found it hard to take the stories seriously. It’s like if Yakkity Sax started playing over the climactic scene in “The Godfather.” To my ears, all kinds of tonally wrong. Anyway, the book still looks cool, which is mostly what matters.
More from The Collection very soon—I’m gonna step up production to make up for the lengthy hiatus.