I went to the Strand bookstore yesterday equipped with a notebook page of 55 writers' names - from Samuel Beckett to Marguerite Yourcenar - all from my Good Reads to-read list. For some of them I noted a particular book, but mostly I was going for anything. Due to time constraints, and various family members pursuing me, I made it only to fiction and poetry. 19 of the authors I looked for weren't there; another seven I found and decided against.
I came home with seven books, each the first I've bought by the respective writer.
1. Wonderful Wonderful Times by Elfriede Jelinek. "It is the late 1950s. A man is walking in a park in Vienna. He will be beaten..." (I would have preferred The Piano Teacher, but they had this and Greed.)
2. The Nervous Filaments by David Dodd Lee. "Imagistic, passionate and uncompromising ... transforms the harsh realities we experience as brutal and permanent into transient informative moments of release." (The volume I wanted.)
3. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen. "Louis Drax is a boy like no other. He is brilliant and strange, and every year something violent seems to happen to him. On his ninth birthday, Louis goes to a picnic..." (I wanted The Ark Baby, but happy to give this a shot.)
4. Reader's Block by David Markson. "In this spellbinding, utterly unconventional fiction, an aging author who is identified only as Reader contemplates the writing of a novel. As he does, other matters insistently crowd his mind -literary and cultural anecdotes, endless quotations attributed and not, scholarly curiosities- the residue of a life's reading, which is apparently all he has to show for his decades on earth." (I wanted Vanishing Point, but no go.)
5. The Tanners by Robert Walser. "(Walser is) the dreamy, confectionary snowflake of German-language fiction." (I would have taken anything.)
6. The Garden Going On Without Us by Lorna Crozier. The poem 'Onions.' (Exactly the book I wanted.)
7. The Quincunx by Charles Pallier. "A remarkable book ... in mood, color, atmosphere and characters, this is Charles Dickens reincarnated. It is an immersing experience." (The book I wanted.)