Strange Events at the Bookshop…

26 Mar

The last two times that I’ve been into my local book store, the shelves have assailed my eyes with unsettling apparitions.

The first strange phenomenon was a notebook. As with many writers, notebooks are of great importance to me and I’m never found without one. There’s been a vogue recently for notebooks dressed up to look like vintage paperbacks. My children bought me one packaged within the original Penguin Books cover to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which I planned out most of my current work-in-progress. And now here was another one in its orange Penguin cover. Nothing so strange about that. Except that it was from a novel by Rex Warner. Rex Warner? I’ve mentioned before that Warner is one of my favourite writers. Most people that I meet have never heard of him let alone read any of his books. It’s their loss. But then that’s the random nature of what’s be found in print and what isn’t… The Aerodrome is his best known novel. But this notebook utilised the cover from The Professor. In the quarter of a century or so since I first read it, I haven’t met anyone else who’s done so. I’m willing to bet that I was the only person in the bookshop – perhaps even the whole town – who’d read it. Before the Internet ruined things by making it too easy, I used to enjoy collecting Warner’s books, all of which barring The Aerodrome were out of print. Covers from my collection were even borrowed by Book Collector magazine for use in an article about him. And yet there it was on the bookshop shelf. How odd.

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The original 1940s cover of the Penguin version, as seen on the notebook

The second strange phenomenon that I encountered was in the non-fiction section. Prominently displayed was a biography of one of my favourite musicians. I already own a biography of him so I looked to see who had written this new one. And it was my erstwhile bosom buddy. We used to share a publisher. Our bands used to support each other. We even had a joint musical project for a few years. While I’ve ploughed my furrow toward obscurity and relative poverty, he has become relatively wealthy and well known. I don’t resent him his success – he’s worked hard for it. These days, though, we’re estranged. He took exception over the break-up of my first long-term relationship and never really forgave me. I love the guy but there are only so many times that you can be rebuffed. Seeing his book there felt odd. I find myself wondering what I shall discover in that book store, the next time that I visit…

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A later, 1980s reprint from Lawrence and Wishart

It so happens that I’m planning a third strange bookshop phenomenon of my own but it’ll have to remain strictly under wraps for the time being… All will be revealed in time.

All text © PSR 2014, images photographed by me and © the publishers

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4 Responses to “Strange Events at the Bookshop…”

  1. Mari Biella March 27, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    That sounds intriguing, Paul – I’ll watch this space…

    I have to admit that I’ve never read any of Warner’s books, but since he comes so highly recommended I’ll see if I can get my hands on one.

  2. Paul Sutton Reeves March 27, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    I always like to weave a little intrigue where I’m able, Mari!

    Warner wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but his prose is a wonder to behold. The two novels that I mentioned are probably the best place to start.

  3. k a r a h ~ April 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Do you believe in signs? I do. I like the way you put the together. Mysterious.

    • Paul Sutton Reeves April 1, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

      Hi Karah and thanks for commenting. Ah, yes, the mystery of signs… A bit of semiology is always appealing!

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