Monday, February 16, 2009

Not another giddy entry on bargain books

For years now, a chief lament I've had with local bookstores is the dearth of theater-related books on their shelves. Aside from Shakespeare and the occasional Beckett, Eliot, Miller or Tennessee Williams, plays in book form--especially new dramas--are hard to come by. Harder still are anthologies of criticism or commentary, though biographies of stage greats (Olivier, for starters, which has a number of volumes available) are quite visible.

Buying from pricey foreign stores--Kinokukiya in Singapore, say, where I bought two books on performance studies--is a coronary-inducing experience. You know you can't find the titles anywhere else, so you buy them now, through gritted teeth, labored breathing and that sudden pain at the back of your neck.

Not surprisingly, local bargain bookstores with their promiscuous, non-discriminating displays of anything printed (sensing a market, Book Sale even carries Korean titles now) are the best places to look for such books. You never do know what you're going to find once you start plowing through the bins. There's the thrill, and also the danger: Once I get near a bargain bookstore I'm a goner. It never fails.

Last Saturday, at Robinsons Place Manila, on my way to find the Baguio merchants selling scarves, gloves and bonnets (for a forthcoming trip--the outlet was gone, dang) I detoured to a Book Sale outlet on the ground floor. I left with a busted budget and 15 books in the bag. The surprise--most of them were theater-related, the first time I had a haul like it. By some inspired randomness, it was as if all these books were gathered together to be dumped in one outlet, to await breathless hoarding by a lucky theater junkie. That would be me. Take a look:

Two Plays by Edward Albee (The American Dream/The Zoo Story), P40
The Visit, Friedrich Durrenmatt, P45
Old Times, Harold Pinter, P45
Six Characters in Search of an Author, Luigi Pirandello, P45
Broadway Bound, Neil Simon, P45
The Playboy of the Western World and other plays, J.M. Synge, P65
Thornton Wilder: Three Plays (Our Town/The Skin of Our Teeth/The Matchmaker), P65
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, August Wilson, P75
Betrayal, Harold Pinter, P75
Love Letters, and two other plays (The Golden Age and What I Did Last Summer), A.R. Gurney, P115

The History Boys: The Film, Alan Bennett, P75
Taxi Driver, Paul Schrader, P75

How to Audition: Advice from a Casting Director, Gordon Hunt, P45
Film Acting: The Techniques and History of Acting for the Camera, Mary Ellen O'Brien, P75
Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Harold Bloom, P75

Everything for about a thousand pesos. Not bad, eh? Given those prices, there was no way I could leave without the finds securely in my hands. Even Gordon Hunt's audition book, which I bought because its second half consists of extensive interviews and reminiscences on the audition process by the likes of Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Neil Simon, Woody Allen. At P45! Gordon Hunt, by the way, is the father of actress Helen Hunt.

And Harold Bloom's--actually an excerpt from his tome Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. In exchange for P75 I get lofty, nosebleed disquisitions on Puck, Bottom, Titania and Oberon. What could be more--gulp--fun?

[Photo taken with a Sony Ericsson C905]


Anonymous said...

Unfair! I want the history boys book!

palma tayona said...

i can fully relate with you gibbs.

before the Pure Gold outlet here in pasay got burned, i would regularly check out this outlet at the fourth floor tucked in the farthest corner of the building where they sell hand-me-down, totally useless things. (i call them useless because they sell items like clocks from the sixties without hands, clothes that only an elephant can wear or shoes the size of shaquille o-neal's feet. who would, in ordinary sized pasay, would buy that?)

in one section is dumped these really fantastic mounds of art, design and art review books/magazines that in a regular bookstore would cost a quarter of a call center agent's salary. no one, not a single soul goes to that section and i've kept it a secret to anyone i know who buy these sort of materials.

but alas, the glory days are over since that building got burned. sigh.

oh, and if you're still looking for those gloves, mittens and scarves at bargain prices, to use in wintry weather, there's a huge store in cartimar selling these things. they sell these winter apparel and i see people buy there who are obviously going to some trip in colder climates.

Ron Centeno said...

You got some interesting books there! I'm a book addict myself.

Dennis N. Marasigan said...



Jessica said...

I love bargain/used books. Even if it's just a small kiosk in the mall, I would really scour for interesting books.

And, those are great finds. Especially The History Boys screenplay! Are there/were there any efforts to stage The History Boys in the Philippines? Or do you think the material is "unstageable" here since the Britain's educational system is very different the Philippines? Just a thought :)

Schizoprano said...

woooooooooooooooooow.... envy.. envy.. envy.. too! ha ha ha

at least I know who to borrow from someday.. hehehe

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