“Deacquisition Mode”

Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle is getting rid of books, (link thanks to Pages Turned) and feels the same way about John Burdett’s Bangkok 8 and Bangkok Tattoo as I do:

“Bangkok Tattoo” by John Burdett. Here’s an interesting phenomenon. I thought Burdett’s previous book, “Bangkok 8,” was just wonderful. I was eager to read his second book. It’s exactly like the first book, only not as good. It’s like seeing a magic show twice in one night — you know what to look for, and it begins to feel like a cheat. But hell: One good book is more than I’ve ever written.

Unlike Carroll, though, I haven’t got rid of BT. I’ve written before about the difficulty of weeding. A few questions help me:

1. Am I likely to read it again?
2. Am I likely to refer to it again? (This learned after giving away my Hegel and Heidegger texts. D’oh.)
3. Is it out of print, difficult to find used, or not at the library?

If I answer yes to any of those, the book stays. I’ve made mistakes over the years (I’m currently wishing I hadn’t given away my copy of Bharati Mukhergee’s The Holder of the World) yet I can count on my fingers the number of deacquisitions I’ve regretted, in contrast to the gazillion I am glad to be rid of.

4 Responses to ““Deacquisition Mode””

  1. Kate Says:

    I don’t completely disagree with your views on Bangkok 8 and Tattoo, but I will say that Bangkok Haunts came in from the library last week, and I regret I didn’t bring it with me on this work trip.

    I find these books particularly good in audio form, which I don’t usually do (lack of time). I felt more like the main character was talking directly to me, which gave the book an immediacy which I sometimes lose in the reading (I felt the same way about Never Let Me Go, which I listened to on another work trip).

  2. girldetective Says:

    Kate, what are your thoughts on 8 and Tattoo?

    Who read Never Let Me Go? The thought of that book being read gives me chills–I found it very powerful even though somewhat detached, and the immediacy of a first-person narrator reading seems daunting to me.

    I got Haunts out of the library, but returned it before my next trip because I’ve got 2 books I have to read for book groups. I am itching to get to it, and the third Justine Larbalestier magic book.

  3. Kate Says:

    I liked them more than you did, but I liked Bangkok 8 significantly more than Tattoo. Images from the first book stay with me more than the second, though in both I loved his ruminations on Thailand, Bangkok, and the farongs who go to his part of town. I guess part of the problem is that I thought the first was an almost perfect foreign-setting mystery where there were all these characters to meet, in particular Sonchai. In the second, the focus had to be on the mystery more, which I find is his weaker area compared to Sonchai’s thoughts.

    In addition, because I listen to these (they always come out around the time we take our very long drive to North Carolina), the narrators are important. B.D. Wong was absolutely incredible in the first one, and who I came to think of AS Sonchai. The second narrator wasn’t bad, just not as good. And finally, the new guy sounds British, and I listening to a few minutes just wasn’t anything like listening to Wong snarl “farong” when Sonchai wants the reader’s attention.

    Never Let Me Go was read by Roslyn Landor, and she was perfect. She has a soft British voice which insinuated itself into my head (much like Wong) so that it felt very intimate, like she was telling me HER story. It stayed with me for weeks–I’m still thinking about that book.

    Finally (sorry, so long), can you believe my library has the first two Larbalestier books but not the final one!?! They are going to interlibrary loan it for me, but still–I really wanted to read it on our vacation. The Bookslut review has me very antsy to read it.

  4. girldetective Says:

    Kate, sorry your library is lame, and I hope they aren’t charging you for the interlibrary loan.
    I think I may have given the wrong impression about how I feel about the Bangkok books, because I wildly loved 8, and your description of your experience hearing it read mirrors my own two readings. I was very disappointed in Tattoo, and won’t re-read it. I felt that too much of the English author came through, and it didn’t sound as authentic to me as 8 felt, so I’m fascinated that your audio experience was similar.

    Let me know what you think of the JL book. Did you know she’s thanked by Elizabeth Gilbert at the end of Eat Pray Love?