Wednesday 9 September 2009

The Sarazens head without New-gate: A catalogue of the ways in which I've been avoiding working today

This was supposed to be a post about Ueda Akinari's Tales of Moonlight and Rain, which I'll discuss very briefly and unsatisfactorily below. I just don't have a book review in me right now, at least not about a book that's more explanatory footnote than text. But more of that anon. Right now, I'm going to discuss what a slack bastard I'm being here in bookstoreland.

I do this not to perpetuate the stereotype that all book-sellers do all day is read - because while that would be astoundingly f***ing heavenly, we don't. Most days, I don't get to read for more than an hour in total, and I make a point of doing so because I don't get an actual lunch break.

How I've Been Wasting Time Today:
The day began with me coming back from my lovely coffee and read in the park this morning to find a crazy woman sitting on the front steps of the shop. I circled around, went to the grocery store, hoping she'd be gone when I returned. But no, she was waiting to be let in. I know she was crazy because she was yelling at herself over some slight, perceived or actual.

She stopped yelling in the store; in fact, the self-talking ended entirely to be replaced by her coughing her TB lungs up all over the books in the fashion section, then the drama section, then the bargain section...while I followed her about tidying up. So, maybe this wasn't a big waste of time but I should have been cataloguing some of the eleventy million books currently sitting on the floor of our back room.

- I've spent a lot of time staring off into space.

- I've been listening to Iron & Wine's fabu album The Shepherd's Dog and wishing I could sing out loud along with it, especially to "Flightless Bird, American Mouth".

- I've been playing Lexulous on the Facebook, which I suck at.

- I've been reading other people's blogs.

- I've been looking out the window and weeping inside because I can't go outside and frolic.

- And I've been eyeballing the gigantic stack of doubles I like to think I'll someday read but which I have no desire for at the moment.

I should be finishing Suite Francaise, if I'm not going to work much, as I have only 30 pages left. But see, I need a bio break and I haven't had one yet today, and it's hard to concentrate when your bladder is about to explode. Long stretches between being able to go pee pee is one of the occupational hazards of working alone in a bookstore. I know, TMI. Forgive me.

Today, I've also tried and failed to write a blog post solely about Tales of Moonlight and Rain, which is a tiny tome of late 18th-century stories by Ueda Akinari. Apparently it's the best damned example of the Japanese literature of the supernatural that ever existed. That may be true but I was so overwhelmed by the copious introducing and footnoting both of the book as a whole and of each of the 9 tales that I don't think I can give much of an opinion on its quality. It was all very distracting.

There were really great moments in these tales, but I found myself wishing that someone had published a version for people who don't care how well-read and given to making literary allusions Akinari was. The problem is, I can't look away from footnotes, like some people can't look away from a train wreck; the mind is willing but the flesh is weak.

Also, yeah, I wrote a catalogue of how I've been wasting time today. This is not a banner day at But it's not a banner day in the life of the Shea either; I'm sleepy and would sell my soul right now, not for the ability to play a mean guitar or for 24 years of unlimited knowledge, but for a comfy hammock in the shade between two trees overlooking a lake. While laying in said dream hammock, I would lazily be perusing the fattest, most Dickensian novel in the world. I believe in the devil but he doesn't believe in me, apparently, because I'm not getting any offers here. Sigh.

But next time, I promise that the Sarazens head will be a happy, joyous, gushy love-fest. Because I think that's what y'all really wanted when you said you wanted to hear about life as a book-seller.


Bookphilia said...

Me writing about wasting time to waste time - is that a meta-waste of time? If so, what are the implications?

Heidenkind said...

If writing (or blogging) is a waste of time, then you have wasted time wasting time, creating a black hole of wasted time from which there is no escape. Congrats. :)

Personally, I would just sing along to the CD. Loudly. Because singing quietly to yourself--now that would be weird.

Unknown said...

Wasting time surrounded by books is not a waste of time though - what else would you be doing with it?

Yuri... said...

Maybe the crazy lady would have been interested in doing a duet of Flightless Bird, American Mouth?

One way or the other, I love the Sarazens head posts whether they be about the good, the bad, or the bio breaks (although perhaps we could keep the latter to the minimum)...

Bookphilia said...

Or maybe two wrongs do make a right and by wasting time writing about wasting time, I've actually created a vortex of pure awesomeness.