Iain Banks, Pat Barker, and My Backsliding into Buying Books

I feel as though I am no longer a book teetotaler, anorexic, or shopaholic because I’m now in the habit of buying books every Saturday again ( just when I have enough money). I have abstained  from this uncontrollable behavior for almost two months because I realized then that there are still a great deal of books I have not read yet. Besides, I thought that they are a waste of money because some of them are now getting ” blighted” despite that they are safely stored in two big boxes. Their pages are getting  withered, blotched, dappled, dotted, eye spotted, flecked, mottled, patched, speckled. Oh, I’m now hyperbolic. I can’t stand being obsessed over them changing like that. In fact,I am now persnickety about book covers. I enjoy reading books  more if they are in pristine conditions.

Even so, I was at ease for a short while  because I could save money unlike before despite that I had this persistent withdrawal-symptom-like situation. I tried to restrain myself from dropping into the book store. The idea of dropping into that place was always haunting me like a ghost  appearing out of nowhere. Indeed, I’m sick. It was just as well that I was engaged in a charity event every Saturday- my moral compass.

However, I could not stand my impulse any longer. I had the chance to visit it when I didn’t have classes at night during the typhoon last week. There I was, after two months, surrounded with the stacks of books higher than me. I basked in their musty musk ,and was riveted on their iridescent covers. I was like a book vulture again, scavenging on a heap of second-hand books. I was making sure that the names of the authors still sounded Greek to me. Usually, I read my list of the best novels in the world before I go to that book store, but I didn’t do so since it was a capricious decision.

The outlet of the book store has not changed yet. Luckily, there were a few customers at that time , so I didn’t need to elbow myself through the crowd . The cashier is still working there who must be familiar with me already. I was reading his mind .

“Look, the bizarro man is back. I’m sure he will be staying here until we are closed.”

As usual, I am familiar with one distinct pattern of behavior common among us bibliophiles- to look after the books you have found or you will pore over whether you will buy them or not.

As a matter of fact, little did I know that the book store was selling on sale. So, eventually, I bought four books , 3 of which have the same author- Iain M. Banks

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I bought Canal Dreams, The Player of Games, and The State of  the Art . Each was only 35 pesos.

I decided to buy  Iain Banks’s works not only because he impressed me with his The Crow Road ( 5/ 5 stars ), The Bridge ( 5 stars ), and Dead Air ( 3 stars ) , but I was enchanted by their book covers given that I wasn’t cocksure if they are included on my list. Uh-oh, I’m a different book beholder. And my gut feeling was right upon checking them on Goodreads. I could  include them in my required reading this year.However, all of them turned out to be the sequels of the first books. Alas!

Book:Canal Dreams by Iain Banks

Paperback: Abacus Fiction, 275 pages
Published :1990 by Abacus (first published 1989)

 

Synopsis: Hisako Onoda, world famous cellist, refuses to fly. And so she travels to Europe as a passenger on a tanker bound through the Panama Canal. By the end of her journey she had ignited one soldier with an oxy-acetylene torch, stabbed another through the chest with the spike of her cello, clobbered a guard with the butt of a rifle and raked terrorists with machine-gun fire before frazzling the survivors in an oil-covered sea.

 

Book:The Player of Games (Culture #2) by Iain M. Banks

Paperback: 309 pages
Published :August 10th 1989 by Orbit (first published August 1988)

Synopsis: The Culture–a humanoid/machine symbiotic society–has thrown up many great Game Players. One of the best is Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Player of Games, master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel & incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game, a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game and with it the challenge of his life, and very possibly his death.

 

 Book:The State of the Art (Culture #4) by Iain M. Banks

 

Paperback: 216 pages
Published: May 27th 1993 by Orbit (first published March 1991)
Goodreads Synopsis:

The first ever collection of Iain Banks’ short fiction, this volume includes the acclaimed novella, The State of the Art. This is a striking addition to the growing body of Culture lore, and adds definition and scale to the previous works by using the Earth of 1977 as contrast.

The other stories in the collection range from science fiction to horror, dark-coated fantasy to morality tale. All bear the indefinable stamp of Iain Banks’ staggering talent.

To dissipate my frustration,I am just souring grapes that I will still read them. I’m curious about their stories since Iain Banks is considered as one of the best imaginative writers in his generation. The Bridge and Dead Air which I have read can bear witness to this. Much more of his The Wasp Factory which catapulted him to fame.

The other book that I bought was The Ghost Road by Pat Barker  which also turned out to be a sequel to  Regeneration . But I thought that I was still lucky to buy this, apart from the fact that it was cheap,  because I had a hard time finding other Pat Barker’s works. I have found some but  they were in bad conditions. Besides, I have always been curious about P.Barker’s works. Why is he so a buzzword among readers? I will find out sooner or later.

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Book :The Ghost Road (Regeneration #3) by Pat Barker

Paperback: 278 pages
Published : 1996 by Penguin Books (first published 1995)
Synopsis:

The final book in the Regeneration Trilogy, and winner of the 1995 Booker Prize

The Ghost Road is the culminating masterpiece of Pat Barker’s towering World War I fiction trilogy. The time of the novel is the closing months of the most senselessly savage of modern conflicts. In France, millions of men engaged in brutal trench warfare are all “ghosts in the making.” In England, psychologist William Rivers, with severe pangs of conscience, treats the mental casualties of the war to make them whole enough to fight again. One of these, Billy Prior, risen to the officer class from the working class, both courageous and sardonic, decides to return to France with his fellow officer, poet Wilfred Owen, to fight a war he no longer believes in. Meanwhile, Rivers, enfevered by influenza, returns in memory to his experience studying a South Pacific tribe whose ethos amounted to a culture of death. Across the gulf between his society and theirs, Rivers begins to form connections that cast new light on his–and our–understanding of war.

Combining poetic intensity with gritty realism, blending biting humor with tragic drama, moving toward a denouement as inevitable as it is devastating, The Ghost Road both encapsulates history and transcends it. It is a modern masterpiece.

Another thing that was added to my disappointment was that I regret not having bought a critically-acclaimed book because of its bad condition,The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers; it has been scrawled with some comments which must have been done by a literary critic, and two books which may be popular among the literati because of their compelling reviews at their back covers:Pure by Andrew Miller  and One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School by Scott Turow .I hope I can still find them. Better luck next time.

As long as possible I want to avoid splurging on books I will just store for a longer period of time. Besides, I realized that I can only buy a new one  if I have almost read half of the books I haven’t even laid a finger on, especially if  that one is  rare. What an oxymoron resolution!How about challenging myself to read  them within a year? In a pig’s eye! 

Just god’s will!  I will just read  and read and read. Hahaha

How about you, buddies? What books have you bought recently? 🙂

Happy Reading, everyone!

 

 

 

 

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