by Catherine Petruccione

#130,6 December 2008

Tales From the Book Trail

BookThink's Author Profiles

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Whether you are stalking books at Friends of the Library sales and book shops or making house calls, scouting for book inventory is an adventure that can bring you to laughter or tears. Whatever the setting, it is the people, and sometimes the circumstances, which make it memorable.

I was delighted one day when, in an antique shop we haunt on a regular basis, Ron found something I had been seeking for a long time - a first edition of MASH by Richard Hooker. While I was searching in the usual booths that occasionally yield something of interest, he had ventured off to investigate a newly installed stash of books. It wasn't long before he tapped me on the shoulder to show me his find.

Ron and I have sort of a running joke that when we have a discussion about a highly collectible book - lets say, a first edition Maltese Falcon - after we discuss all its characteristics and points of issue I always finish with, "But don't worry, you'll never see one." Then he ultimately proves me wrong, and usually within a year's time. This works so well that I find myself telling him quite often that he'll never find anything.

A collectible quality first edition of MASH is darned hard to find, as anyone who has searched for it readily knows. So we left the shop in a state of subdued excitement with a short pile of books, including a beautiful first edition copy of MASH. There were errands to do on our way home, and next on the list was stopping by the grocery store. As we headed across the parking lot on foot, I got a bit ahead of Ron. He called to me from behind, "Who is that author again - of MASH, I mean?"

I bounded on toward a rack of shopping carts. "Hooker!" I yelled at the top of my lungs. As I looked up from the stuck cart, I stared into the face of a blonde woman in a tight skirt and stiletto heels just as she sauntered past me, hips swinging. "Oops," I uttered softly. She paused ever so briefly as her eyes flickered up and down. She looked peeved. What could I say? There was no way the true explanation for my outburst would fly. I held my tongue as she shifted her weight from one shiny pump to the other and breathed a sigh of relief when she finally rolled her eyes and moved off toward her car. I'm afraid that when she was safely out of sight, I laughed so much I had tears in my eyes and could hardly focus on grocery shopping at all. (I am easily amused, especially by humorous unplanned events).

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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