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Friday, June 23, 2006 

The man whose head expanded

I should never go to the good used book store five minutes from my apartment; I just walked out with William S. Burrough's Exterminator!, The Shifting Realities of Philip K Dick (a collection of his essays and notes), At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien and Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. Calvino is someone who, like Borges before I finally read him earlier this year, I've been meaning to check out since high school. And if I like this one they've got a bunch more of his stuff in the same, nice editions (remaindered, I gather). Plus, all four came to $34; if new, they would have been $65.

Plus I sold $46 worth of CDs I wanted to get rid of, so it worked out nicely.

Winter's Night has the best send up of surrealism ever. Most people who have read anything by Calvino mention Invisible Cities, which is great, to be sure, but I recommend The Baron in the Trees, a sly satire on the Enlightenment (the scene in which Napoleon tries to recall his script as he confronts the new Diogenes is a masterpiece of multi-layered parody and satire) and the story Smog.

Both of those books are at the shop, so I might have to pick them up - thanks for the recommendations!

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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