November 8 - Haunted Bookshop

Whenever I get out to Sidney BC, I make a point of zipping into the Haunted Bookshop. I say "zipping" because I usually have my seven-year-old in tow, and she's not all that patient when it's not her kind of bookstore! (Her kind of bookstore, we're there for hours. Something in the genes.)

Anyway, it's a great shop, but to my credit I managed not to buy the four-volume set of Nature Display'd (1736-1740), since it was after all priced at $1450.00 ("firm, no movement on price," said the fellow working the store yesterday). I'd call it overpriced, but I'm no antiquarian -- as keen as I am on the book.

Not overpriced, though, were a couple of books from the shop's seriously impressive collection of BC writing and BC history:
  • Gilean Douglas, River for My Sidewalk ($8 -- she published it first under a male pseudonym in 1953, thinking no one would believe that a woman could survive in the wild like this)
  • Howard White, The Men There Were Then ($10 -- 1st edition, near perfect condition, with a copy of the original 1983 press release from the publisher)

Douglas is a really great writer, in poetry as well as prose, and it's criminal that none of her own work is in print. (There's a selection of it in Lebowitz & Milton's Gilean Douglas: Writing Nature, Finding Home, but she deserves to be read in bulk rather than in essence.)

As for White, I've had a casual eye out for this book ever since I was first amazed by a short selection in the Tom Wayman-edited anthology Going for Coffee: Poetry on the Job. You have to know that old-time loggers kept their axes incredibly sharp, and that they hung them from their belts with the blades uncovered: time one man when he
turned to reach for his saw,
he brushed that razor sharp axe
and it slit his middle
right along the belt line for about eight inches.
It didn't bleed so much but
his intestines came looping down like bunting.
When we came with the stretcher this man
was under the cut crouched on his knees
delicately holding up these gut loops
one by one splashing sawdust off 'em
with water from his waterbag.
There are no men like that
around today.
(Wayman p.67; White pp.32-33)
No, no there aren't men like that today. At least not in my house.


David L. said…
Don't sell yourself short! I'm sure you delivered a lecture after getting a papercut or something similar. And I know you rescued absent-minded profs from near-certain doom in the wilds of East Sooke.

We're just redefining "manliness" for the new millennium....
Zachariah Wells said…
One hopes they're smarter now... My brother once had a chainsaw buck back and clip his orbital bone, cutting his eyelid in half. He ripped off his shirt and held it over his bleeding eye while he drove himself home. No one thought he was tough.

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