As it turns out, my copy of Picked-Up Pieces is with good friend Exie Abola. That means one less excuse, I mean book, to scour the used books bins for. For a good scouring, I would recommend Buy the Book, a bookstore in Walter Mart Pasay Road where Powerbooks sells assorted used books. Last month, to give a for instance, I bought seven books: The Meaning of Recognition by Clive James (hardback), The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (in one of those big fat paperback formats I like very much), an immaculate Monte D’Urban by the unfortunately neglected J. F. Powers, A Serious Way of Wondering by Reynolds Price, State of Denial (the third volume, hardback, of Bush at War) by Bob Woodward, The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin (still in its shrink-wrapping) by the eminent Gordon Wood, and — not least, at least as an experiment — A Case of Two Cities, a gritty crime thriller (hardback) set in Shanghai, by Qiu Xiaolong. Total damage: About P1,100 (a third of it for the latest James collection). The week before I had seen a copy of The Meaning of Recognition in Powerbooks Greenbelt, retailing for something like P1,800. So, yes, I felt good. Then I started to read Welty, and realized I had seriously underpaid.
The first story I read was “A Piece of News,” which includes the scene of a young, slow-witted woman encountering her name in a newspaper for the first time. Damn thing blew me away.