Books, $72.18, And Harvey Pekar

Eric Conveys an Emotion is pretty funny, and it’s an excellent waste of five or ten minutes.

There is a 40% off book sale going on at my place of work, and I have been perusing the sale tables in my freetime. It is evil for there to be a book sale right under my nose for eight hours of my day, because I am nearly helpless in the face of it. The last time we had a book sale, it was phenomenal. Softcovers were going for $0.99 and hardcovers for $2.99, so I ended up bringing home approximately thirty books, which is on the far end of ridiculous. Our bookshelves at home are filled to capacity with books shelved two deep, milk crates full of books are stacked in the corner of our office, and free-standing piles of them are slowly multiplying on our chairs and floor. I have hardly even made a dent in the last batch, so today, I am working very hard at keeping a tight rein on myself. It is kind of working. Sort of. I have three books put aside. That is all the damage I promise to do. I swear.

For all the recipes you will never, ever try, take a look at Bert Christensen’s Weird & Different Recipes.

I like the Funky Chicken. Click to hear the sample of the music he plays, but not if you are at the office.

I think what I love most about books isn’t even what is inside them. It is the texture of them, the feel of them. I love the words: signature, spine, pages, and dust jacket. The smell of new books, that subtle mixture of chemicals’ fumes, is intoxicating, and the smell of old books with that worked-in flavour of dust and old men is comforting like worn quilts. Dust jackets left lying around make me wonder where their books have gone and if I was enjoying them. Dust jackets on books make me wonder what is underneath them: is the book beneath plain cloth, pleather, or paper? Is the book title stamped on the cover in gold, or is it only pressed into the spine, leaving the book looking a little lost and naked when undressed. Used books are the best for mystery. Pencilled names inside the cover that have been crossed out to call attention to a newer name beneath that I will not cross out, because I am too busy wondering who these people were and why they bothered to write their names there in the first place when they did not choose to continue to own the book. Old pocket books have the edges of their pages inked yellow or red, sometimes blue, and smell like what I imagine mice must smell like when they live in old walls. Textbooks from past university classes stand stiff and crisp, still useful as they act as bookends to stop the other books from sliding onto their sides. Old books, new books, red books, blue books. Yum.

I had the strangest experience the other day. Over the last month or so, I have been prone to nauseousness, which is unusual for me. Never before this last month was my stomach ever sensitive to smells, sights, thoughts, what have you. My gut was iron clad. Well, the other day, I was ringing a purchase through the till, and the total after taxes came to $72.18. Somehow, that is a horrible number. It is sickly, grey-greasy like the viscous fatty skin that forms on really old dishwater. The rest of the day, 72.18 kept re-entering my mind, but I managed to hold my nausea at bay. It is still an awful number, so my mention of it stops here.

(and for no particular reason, here are) Harvey Pekar Facts and Links:
* Go to “ Who Is Harvey Pekar to hear audio clips of Pekar and others.
* Slate has a review of the biographical movie about Pekar entitled “American Splendor.”
* reviewed the 25th anniversary issue of his comic series, “American Splendor.”
* Toonopedia has a piece on “American Splendor.”
* The Onion, Times Online, CinemaSpeak, and Hogan’s Alley interviewed Pekar.
* Buy your Harvey Pekar bobblehead today! Also, I would recommend picking up a copy of one of his anthologies. I did, and I am so happy.
* Mr. Pekar is looking for submissions of artwork for his stories. Try your hand at it and join with the other great artists who have worked with him.

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