Friday, April 13, 2007

Visiting Langston and some other stuff

I'm a sucker for thirft shops and used book stores. People who know me know that. My Vonnegut post that is forthcoming will explain the origins of my bibliophilia a little more. My catalog of books and journals (the organized spreadsheet I have of my "inventory") contains over 700 titles.

And when I see books that jump out at me, including children's titles, I am tempted to get them.
For example, this past Monday, I found this title at our local Salvation Army:

Now, I recognize the name of Willie Perdomo as a poet, and I am always interested in the work of poets, outside the scope of poetry, so I checked it out.

It's a nice little book. From Publisher's Weekly:

Perdomo (Where a Nickel Costs a Dime) captures the excitement of an African-American girl anticipating a visit to the Harlem brownstone of Langston Hughes. The narrator, an aspiring writer, expresses her enthusiasm from the opening lines: "Today I'm going to wear/ My favorite pink blouse/ I'm going with my daddy/ To visit Langston's house." Throughout, Collier's (Uptown) heady blend of watercolor and mixed media collage evokes the history of the writer's life and times. In the opening spread, a black-and-white painting depicting Jazz Era scenes hangs on the wall as the girl sits smiling on a couch, clutching a notebook and pen. In a kind of meditation on the poet, subsequent spreads incorporate elements of that painting, which hangs in the girl's living room: for instance, bass players and a pianist inhabit the space behind Langston at his typewriter ("Langston/ Langston/ Langston Hughes/ Wrote poems/ Like jazz"). Collier then shows the girl kneeling to read the paper in Hughes's typewriter. In the end, Perdomo adds a twist: the girl and her father stand before the doors of Langston's house and the opening lines repeat; she sits on the couch in the next spread but, this time, her notebook is open. "Langston/ Langston," says the girl. "I write poetry/ Just like Langston Hughes." Is she writing about the trip she just made? Or is she imagining the visit to come?

Check out book details, including other images from within the book, here.

Anyway, aside from being a nice book, the front endpaper had a little surprise for me:

That's signed by both Perdomo, and the illustrator, Bryan Collier. Not that I'm thinking of selling it, but ABE Books lists 8 copies for sale, only one of which is double-signed. The going rate (admittedly inflated for the marketplace) is $85. Not bad for a book I paid $2.99 for, no? Plus, it's a pretty little book.

In other book news, I hit a book sale room at the Mid-Manhattan Library today and snagged the following:


Latin American Literary Review, Volume XIII, January-June, 1985, Number 25, The "Gabriel Garcia Marquez Issue".

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