Reading in Bangkok

Removing the several C. P. Snow novels from my library uncovered a tall stack of paperbacks from the days when The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by Le Carré sold for 75¢. Included in the stack were several books with a sticker on the first page from the Central Department Store, Bangkok Thailand. Among these were Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and The Exorcist by William Blatty. These books were purchased when I lived in Thailand for a time in 1968-9. How did they survive all this time?

It’s time to get rid of the whole stack, 18 books, but first let’s take a look at some of them:

Remember the Exorcist? This novel about a young girl possessed by evil spirits was the ultimate terror novel of the late 60s. It was followed, in 1973, by the equally scary movie. The Exorcist, starts off with a preface set in Northern Iraq:

The blaze of sun wrung pops of sweat from the old man’s brow, yet he cupped his hands around the glass of hot sweet tea as if to warm them. He could not shake the premonition. It clung to his back like chill wet leaves.

The narrator is setting the stage for something unexplainable that he wishes to share with his readers.

In Jane Eyre, Bronte begins almost like she is writing a posting to her blog:

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (…) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so somber, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.

Reads nicely, but the prospect of the long English winter is too bleak for my tastes. I first read this novel in college. I wonder why I bought another copy in Thailand.

The Exorcist continues:

Like the brief doomed flare of exploded suns that registers dimly on blind men’s eyes, the beginning of horror passed almost unnoticed; …

Does anyone doubt that the author is going to try for new heights of terror? The book was followed 2 years latter by the movie, which is still available on DVD. Great book, deserves to be read, hope someone buys it.

The stack of paperbacks included an eclectic selection of plays, novels and even a few non-fiction titles, notable were: The Ugly American (great novel to read in the Far East), The Stranger by Camus, and Candide by Voltaire and several classic anthropology books—The Biosocial Nature of Man by Ashley Montague and Patterns of Culture by Ruth Benedict.

All in all, this stack of paperbacks raises more questions about my reading habits than I care to answer.  The whole stack is destined now for the used-book market after lingering so many years on a shelf in my library.

18 books added to stack.
The deaccession count: Posts 11, Books 42.


About carto

Retired software engineer who grew up in Montana, went to Montana State College in Bozeman, and moved to California to work at Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Carto's Logbook is about photography, travel and adventure; Mt. Maurice Times is tall tales mostly biographical; Carto's Library is about books I've read and liked.
This entry was posted in Classics, Deaccession, Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

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