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]