I was so excited, I took a whole series of badly out-of-focus pictures of the stalls inside. This is the only one that turned out. You can see why I was practically faint at the prospect of so many wonderful books, all in one place! Not to mention the twinkly lights. They're just so darn festive.
For an overview from a previous year, check this out (from the book fair website). You can see this year's color was red, not blue, but otherwise the effect is the same. Ninety-six stalls and not a bad one among them.
I found my first book almost immediately (The Seige of Krishnapur--sorry, Rose City, I don't mean to rub it in), and also another one I've been wishing for:Mr. Chestnut passed away recently and I heard an interview on NPR in which he related his role in the Selma civil rights marches organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. What a wise gentleman, incredily articulate about very difficult issues. Lawyers everywhere should be proud to count him among them.
Anyway, Mr. Chestnut said he wanted to go on the march, but they wouldn't let him. He was the first black lawyer in Selma, and the movement didn't have enough lawyers. Marchers they had, but lawyers were in short supply, so lawyers weren't allowed to march. His job was to report via telephone from a good vantage point to his supervisors at the NAACP in New York, as it was happening. He was watching and making a live report while the confrontation on the bridge (Bloody Sunday) was taking place. So I was very happy to find his book in perfect condition (never been read, I'll wager) for $12.I also saw lots of gorgeous first edition books, some of them signed, that I didn't buy. Let's just say they were out of my price range. These beauties were displayed by J.F. Whyland Books (email@example.com, if you're interested).
He had the best prices on the moderately priced books, meaning those under $100. C.S. was very tempted! We had a nice chat with him. When I told him I read the Bookers, he offered to take me to see a particularly rare Booker winner that he'd noticed in another stall. I felt very smug to be able to say, "Do you mean The Seige of Krishnapur? I've got it right here!" I bought a book from him, too, he was so nice. It was a pure impulse buy, but I like Iris Murdoch, and this one is in perfect condition, $15. He gave me $3 off without my even asking.
Now, as if wonderful books in the $3,000 price range weren't enough of a thrill . . . In our wanderings we came to this display, which belongs to Ken Lopez. If you look carefully (sorry, poor photography again), you can see a stellar line-up across the top shelf here, from the center to the right: Lolita ($13,500), not sure of the next one, then One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ($25,000), Catch-22 ($12,500) and The Natural ($15,000). This guy's books are beyond perfect and the colors on the covers are as bright as I've ever seen. The quality of his selections is simply incredible.
So of course I had to look. See the little pointer? That's my personal favorite book ever, the book that if I could only read the same book over and over for the rest of my life, that's the one I'd pick. And Ken Lopez has one! Here's the picture from his website:
Isn't it just gorgeous? The case door was open and he was standing right there, so I asked if I could pick it up and look at it. He says "Sure, go ahead" and I'm, you know, just kind of looking through it and I happen to glance at the slip of paper inside the front cover, where the price is. Hm . . . blink, blink . . . darn contacts . . . blink, blink . . . where's the decimal point . . . ?
Meanwhile, C.S. is peering over my shoulder. About the time the light bulb comes on for me, I can feel his blood pressure shoot right off the scale. I'm holding a book that costs $100,000. There isn't any decimal point in that number!
Wow. Nice book. Guess I won't be buying this one unless I decide to get a 30-year mortgage.