Salvage Operation

Here, old books stink. The heat does something to whatever adhesive gets used in their binding. And the heat causes the sweat of your hands to mingle with the dried adhesive as you flick through them. Yesterday I spent the afternoon sorting through old books, trying to work out which ones were to go to the local library, which would in turn send them on to prisons and old people’s centres, and which ones were to be simply thrown in the skip because no-one was ever going to read them, and a third lesser category: the ones I would hang onto myself.

There were about 15 volumes of Freud, all in Spanish. Even though Freud in English is a translation from the German, I knew that if I hung onto them I would never read them, out of indolence. But I kept The Psychopathology of Everyday Life and Studies in Hysteria.

Then there was the Arturo Barea’s La Forja de Un Rebelde trilogy on the Spanish Civil War. I lifted that too.

Among the others: a couple of books by Camilo José Cela: La Colmena and Cafe de Artistas.

A great hardback copy of Rayuela by Julio Cortázar, with a photo of him on the front, smoking a fag.

An anthology of studies on Miguel Hernández.

An anthology of essays in homage to José Donoso.

a book on Octavio Paz: Cultura Literaria y Teoría Crítica.

Sin noticias de Gurb by Eduardo Mendoza.

Los que vivimos i.e. We The Living, by Ayn Rand (gulp.) Published in 1959.

Now all I need is long term hospitalisation in order to get the chance to read them. The last one, well, I’m not sure if life is long enough to bother, but I liked the very spartan cover.

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