Keeping Your Mind Off Japan

Amenities turn into luxuries as you suffer a class fall.  Buying fresh-cut flowers and newly published books requires more “discretionary” income than you have. You either give them up or find other options. Access to a backyard, for example, can close the flower gap. And Edward R. Hamilton, Bookseller, can, for a relative pittance, fill your shelves with coveted tomes of recent vintage. We call it “Eddie’s Hot Deals” in honor of an Inner Sunset corner grocery that sells $2.95 wooden-handled gardening tools, imitation-Felco pruning shears, discount American Spirits, etc.

From his headquarters in Fall Rivers, Connecticut, Eddie sends out a catalog filled with “publishers’ closeouts, overstocks, imports, remainders, and current titles at special prices.” Shipping costs $3.50 no matter how many books you order.

The catalog is approximately 8½-by-11 inches on glossy stock. The list of books for sale starts immediately below the banner, which proclaims, “Bargain Books.”  The list continues —I’m looking at the Jan. 28 edition— for 114 pages. Each page contains three columns of enticing one-inch synopses, each synopsis accompanied by a picture of the book’s cover and ends with the original price and —flush right, in red— Eddie’s price.  Some 72 category headings guide you to areas of interest, enabling the rational reader to skip “Occult,” “Religion,” “Self-Help,” etc.  Almost all the other categories are worth a browse, even if you’re not that into “Civil War” or “Fishing & Hunting.”

“Cannabis” is not yet a subject unto itself. Under “Your Health” there’s a listing for the Marijuana Medical Handbook by Dale Gieringer et al, published by QuickAmerican. A star at the start of the summary indicates that this is a “current title” with a minimal discount —down from $19.95 to $13.95.  The experienced Eddie’s customer knows that the price is likely to come down to $7.95 in a future catalog, and then, perhaps, to $5.95.  On the other hand, it could sell out before you spring for it.

It seems like a misuse of Eddie’s Hot Deals to buy a book that is not at least two-thirds off cover price. Better yet, three-quarters off, like “Patently Erotic,” published by Plume at $13, now $2.95. Synopsis: “Collection of actual patent applications for devices that treat sex as a science. Erotic? Maybe. Funny? Always.”

 “Vietnam: A Natural History,” was published by Yale at $45 and is now available from Eddie’s for $7.95. There’s a lot of book for the buck. “Provides the first guide to Vietnam’s spectacular flora and fauna… regions that encompass tropics, subtropics, mountains, wetlands, coastal areas and more. Color illus. 423 pages.”  If you still see images of defoliant being laid down on the jungle canopy, maybe this could cheer you up.

Also from Yale ($25 reduced to $5.95) is “Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice” by Janet Malcolm. “‘How had a pair of elderly Jewish lesbians survived the Nazis?’ Macolm asks at the beginning of this work of literary biography and investigative journalism.”  Malcolm is the NYer writer who argued in court that quotation marks mean not what the person said, but what she, Janet, figures the person meant.

 “Faberge’s Eggs… recounts the remarkable story of these masterpieces, taking us from the circumstances that inspired each egg’s design, through their disappearance in the trauma and revolution to the eventual reemergence in the global marketplace. Illus. in color. 302 pages. Random. Pub at $30.

“Sunflowers: The Secret History,” down from $22.95 to $4.95. “The unexpected and highly entertaining social history of this scandalous flower.” What’s scandalous about sunflowers? It’s almost worth $4.95 to find out.

As the seductive synopses take over your brain, topics you never think about start to fascinate. “Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences,” becomes a must-have. “Explores the sentence diagramming phenomenon, including its humble roots at Brooklyn Polytechnic.”  Published by Harcourt at $14.95, now only $3.95!  Get this one for the grand-kids.

Anderson Valley Advertiser readers, exposed for years to poignant filler quotes from Smedley Butler, might flash on “Devil Dog: The Amazing True Story of the Man Who Saved America” by David Talbot. “Smedley Butler took a bullet to the chest at age 18, ran down rebels in Nicaragua and Haiti, and saved the lives of his men in France. But when he learned that America was trading the blood of Marines to make Wall St. fat cats even fatter, Butler went on a crusade. He threw the gangsters out of Philadelphia, faced down Herbert Hoover, and blew the lid off a plot to overthrow FDR.”

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for Talbot, Simon & Schuster has not yet remaindered “Devil Dog,” so Eddie prices it at $13.95 (down from $20).  We’re going to wait for a deeper discount. Same for the biography of Giordano Bruno from FSG.

The biography of Thucydides, however, published by Viking at $26.95, is down to a reasonable $5.95.  “Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography,” published by S&S for $23.95 is $5.95.  “Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times” by Ralph Stanley recounts his life on the road with the Clinch Mountain Boys ($27.95 down to $7.95). “Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad-boy Wrestler Who Created American Pop Culture” was published by Harper’s for $25.95; Eddie can get you a copy for $5.95. Did you know that James Brown took to wearing sequined capes on stage after seeing George perform in the ring?

We have a son in Japan. Tuesday morning he got on a train from Tokyo heading south to a friend’s farm. The situation in Japan is all I can think about. I was going to pass on Eddie’s offer of “Hiroshige: The 69 Stations of the Kisokaido” by Keisi Eisen, because it’s $39.95 (Braziller, Pub. At $80). “Offers an unforgettable portrait of daily life in 19th-century Japan. Each of the 71 color plates teems with characters, from beggars and brawling men to boaters and finely clothed women.”  Better order it.  You only live once.

FRED GARDNER is the editor of O’Shaughnessy’s, the journal of cannabis in clinical practice.  He can be reached at fredgardner@projectcbd.org.



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Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s. He can be reached at fred@plebesite.com

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