August 3, 2005

Book Magic.

My little filial unit and I traveled to Hyde Park yesterday to visit Powell's (our favorite used book store). Despite the fact that we like to think of ourselves as hardcore Powell's aficionados, we tend to forget about the 10% off sale on the first of each month, which means 20% off with our Powell's tote bag. I love getting lost in that place: the grunge and disorganization, the shear lack of alphabetization and categorization. We justify our expenditures with the fact that we never buy new books because they're so expensive.
My picks: Creative Native American Beading, Collages by Anais Nin, Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna by China Galland, Loteria, Midnight at the Palace: One Life as a fabulous Cockette, and Zami Sister Outsider Undersong by Audre Lorde.
The magic is always in finding forgotten scraps tucked away in the books one browses through. I found a huge illustrated map of Mexico and Central America in a Pre-Columbian book and a letter dated April 1991 that begins "Dear Book Review Editor" from Paragon House publishing in Longing for Darkness. In a travel book for Rome I found the picture on the right of what I assume to be Rome. It was processed on November 2nd, 1986.
The greatest find was within a 1945 copy of Wars I Have Seen by Gertrude Stein. Tucked inside was this drawing on the back of an old University Bank check, which indicates that the owner resided in Hyde Park. I hope to have the confidence to sketch like that some day=> spur of the moment on the back of a blank check. I have yet to work up the courage to start practicing though. I love being put in my place like that by pieces of history. Speaking of history,

the other day I found this sketch of a California mission drawn and meticulously labeled by one of my relatives in one of the many tins of ephemera of my grandmother's. I can't even imagine how beautiful it must have been: the high angle, as if observed from a hill. On the reverse is a sketch of what appears to be a woman working a generator. Perhaps it was Norman's, my grandmother's cousin whom she married very late in life. As he developed Alzheimer's, the labeling got so bad that he would label everything with either his name or a red swatch of paint.