I spent a long time in my local book shop yesterday, mostly on the second floor…a quick scan of the language books (we’re thinking of having a bash at Dutch) and then a long time in poetry, art and design. So many good things on one floor. It’s all wooden shelves and floorboards and the books go all the way up to the ceiling but that’s okay because we(e) browsers are trusted with short step ladders – it’s bliss. And the smell…. I kept taking books off the shelves, sniffing them long and deep and making happy sighs of contentment. I think I love the smell of brand spanky new books even more than the fusty musty smell of second hand well fondled tomes..and some of the new books in Toppings are wrapped in shiny cellophane that hides their smell. I’ve no idea if taking off the wrapper in the shop is allowed or not…I didn’t ask… I bought a copy of ‘On the Thirteenth Stroke of Midnight’ – sight unseen – based purely on the blurb on the back and the fact that it was plastic intact.
Back at home…sitting on my bed, in the middle of the afternoon I opened it.
The rustle of paper bag…followed swiftly by removal of the cellophane – it wasn’t shrink wrapped… but parcel wrapped with perfect folds, sharp corners, tiny pieces of tape and then the chemical whiff of a brand new unopened book. I will never EVER replace real paper and ink with electronic ‘handiness’. The unwrapping experience was either near sexual or near religious..and either way I then lay it down and paused for tea, jaffa cakes and anticipation before breathing in it’s inky aroma – nose to book edge and then diving in between the pages to see what it held.
It’s an anthology of British Surrealist poetry, with quite a lot of academic type stuff at the beginning and brief biogs at the rear and the poems themselves demand to be read out loud. I found I have a special ‘reading surrealist poetry out loud voice’ and on the whole they seem to mention sailors and the colour black too often. I suspect my special voice is Julie Walters based edging into “my eyes are pies”.
My favourite poem on first perusal is by a chap called Desmond Morris..that’s strange I thought – he’s got the same name as that populist Naked Ape chappy…how unfortunate.
I liked his poems so much I nipped onto the internet later in the afternoon to see if Mr. Morris had any books all of his own (whilst trying not to look how much cheaper I could have bought the anthology from the fucking online shysters at Amazon)…I found Desmond Morris, the zoologist, ethologist and expert on the reproductive behaviour of the ten-spined stickleback and that he is also known for his surrealist painting – (combining his dual loves in 1957 by organising an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, of paintings and drawings composed by chimpanzees).
And would you credit it?…he’s the same Desmond Morris, who writes rather good surrealist poetry. How bonkers is that?
So I’ve also ended up buying a book of his poetry (illustrations by himself), and an illustrated copy of his childrens book Inrock (allegedly something Kubrick thought would make a good film)…oh and the entire works of e e cummings fell into my electronic basket too… a not very satisfying experience from an ethical and sensory perspective but all in all bally cheap and so quick was the ‘one click’ system that I barely had a chance taste my dis.