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Today's quote:

Friday, April 15, 2022

Thank you, H.G. Markham

Read it online at www.archive.org
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There is a car dealer in the Bay who sells only second-hand cars, or, as he calls them, pre-loved cars. I like to think of the second-hand books I buy, either online or from the nine op-shops within a fifty-kilometres radius (two in Moruya, three in the Bay, and four in Ulladulla), as pre-loved books.

None, it seems, was more pre-loved than "Best South Sea Stories" which arrived in the mail yesterday. A first edition hardcover, printed in 1964 when I was still in Germany and could only dream of the South Seas, it is still in its pristine dustjacket, in the back of which was tugged this U.K. newspaper clipping from the '60s, advertising it for 21 shillings.

Some of the stories I knew (everyone knows W. Somerset Maugham's "Red") but James Norman Hall's "The Forgotten One" I had never heard of, nor had I ever seen in print "The Ghost of Alexander Perks, A.B." by the unforgettable Robert Dean Frisbie of "The Book of Puka-Puka" fame.

Of course, I could have read the book online at www.archive.org but then I would have missed out on the provenance of this pre-loved book whose flyleaf bears the rubberstamp impression "H.G. Markham, 15 Rangoon Street, Khandallah" and a handwritten "December 1964".

Intrigued by the evocative streetname (how I would like to live on Rangoon Street; indeed, how I would like to live in Rangoon again!) and the exotic-sounding Khandallah, I googled for it and discovered it is a suburb of windy Wellington in New Zealand. From the U.K. to New Zealand and back again because I bought this beautiful, pre-loved book from an ebay seller in Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom for $24.82.

Some more googleing - is it "googleing" or "googling"? - and I found that the house at 15 Rangoon Street sold for $250,000 in March 1988, after "Best South Sea Stories" had graced its bookshelves for almost a quarter of a century. Thank you, H.G. Markham, whoever you are and wherever you are now (in Book Heaven, I'm sure) for taking care of it for so long.

Under a deep blue sky, with the sun on my face, I sit on the verandah with a coffee and a plateful of scones and treasure my two new books.

Googlemap Riverbend


P.S. In the same post I received the slim copy of Paul Auster's "The Invention of Solitude", but that's deserving of a separate blog.