Sight Unseen

Trolling around the local Borders, I came across a new Stephen King book, The Colorado Kid. I hadn’t read any reviews about it and the back cover didn’t give many details about the plot. I had no idea what it was about, except that it was apparently a new noir detecive book by King.

I like King but I haven’t read anything by him in years. But I picked it up and bought it. Just like that. It helped that it was only five bucks (it’s a paperback).

It felt strange to buy a book without knowing anything about it. I love Vonnegut, but I won’t just buy anything from the guy, and I didn’t buy his new book. But, somehow, Stephen King + new + noir + detective story = done deal!

What about you — is there an author whose book you would buy, sight unseen? Why, or why not?

17 Responses

  1. very unlikelyI can’t think of
    very unlikely

    I can’t think of a living author I would automatically buy a new book from. Not Updike, not Roth, not Beattie, not Baker, not Auster, not Moody, not Irving …

    Okay, there’s one. J. D. Salinger. But that’s just because it’s a total longshot.

    I will buy, sight unseen, any new CD from Bob Dylan or Jay-Z, and I’ll see any movie directed by Mike Leigh. But no active writers rank that high for me.

  2. Any Familiar Name Will DoI
    Any Familiar Name Will Do

    I would pounce on anything by Camus, Joseph Heller, or Robert Stone that I haven’t read. I feel that I’ve only read a sliver of what’s out there and anything I buy, I sell back after I read it. If I don’t like something, I’ll stop reading it. Unfortunately, I belong to no social circles where one is measured by what they’ve read. However, on my bookshelf between Strunk & White and Garner’s Dictionary of Modern American Usage is Stephen King’s On Writing and the guy is a machine when it comes to writing! I read him as a teenager and almost bought another book of his but decided on another.

  3. Hunter S. Thompson was the
    Hunter S. Thompson was the one

    Any time Hunter S. Thompson had a new book out, I bought it automatically. Everytime I saw Thompson’s name on the cover of Rolling Stone or other magazine, I bought it. I can’t think of anyone else, but I do relate to your “combination” concept – that a certain subject by a certain writer could compel me to pick up a book.

    For example, I had read Thomas deQuincey’s Confessions of an Opium Eater. I was also interested in the group of writers who came to be known as the “Lake Poets” – Coleridge, Wordsworth, Southey, and sometimes Byron – so when I spied a book called Recollections of the Lakes and the Lake Poets by Thomas deQuincey, in a used book store, I scooped it up without hesitation.

    I agree that Stephen King + noir sounds like a good combination.

  4. I kind of feel the same way.
    I kind of feel the same way. It’s even more strange when you think that a paperback costs less than a CD and sometimes less than a single movie ticket. Maybe it’s because you have to invest so much time in a book. A song is three minutes long. A movie is two hours. But you don’t passvively read a book for a few minutes. You actively participate for days or weeks (months?). So maybe we’re more selective in what we will subject ourselves to over longer periods. Reading a book is like a marraige. Watching a movie is like a one-nighter.

    I have to admit that I’m still in my honeymoon phase with Palahniuk, so he’s the only guy I would buy sight unseen. However, after Haunted, the honeymoon may soon be over.

  5. And speaking of Updike. .
    And speaking of Updike. . .

    About two weeks ago I started Rabbit, Run. I liked the first few pages, but then he went on a three or four page bender about what the neighborhood looked like in Rabbit’s town. It just wore me down so I had to put it back on the bookshelf for a while. Maybe next year.

  6. Hey Malt — I say forget that
    Hey Malt — I say forget that Rabbit junk. Overhyped. Skip “Witches of Eastwick” too. Try “Couples” for some high-octane Updike action.

  7. A fewThere was a time that it
    A few

    There was a time that it was a special treat to see a new Bukowski book of poetry or collected letters on the new paperbacks table, especially when he continued to Tupac his way through the publishing world. Several years after his death I don’t know though if my tastes have just changed or if it just feels like they’ve got a Bukbot set up some where churning out poems, but I haven’t bought, or even picked up one in awhile.

    As far as living writers, I’ll pick up anything written by Haruki Murakami, though I may wait till paperback.

    And after building from Ghostwritten, to number9dream, to Cloud Atlas, I’m a faithful David Mitchell consumer.

    I’ll buy Gabriel Garcia Marquez new book next week without knowing anything about it but the title.

    Paul Theroux has earned my trust as far as his travel books go, no matter the destination, but not for his novels.

    I was about to include James Kelman, my favorite Scottish novelist, but then I remembered I never picked up a weird modernist sci-fi novel he wrote a few years ago. His most recent “You have to be careful in the Land of the Free” got back on point, but now I’ll at least look at the dust jacket description before buying.

    And two translators of Chinese poetry Bill “Red Pine” Porter and David Hinton. I figure if they’ve translated it, it’s worth reading.

    Reading warrenweappa’s response, I thought; it’s kind of bittersweet to reach the end of a dead writer’s catalogue, knowing that’s all there is and nothing more to come. Like when I finished reading Richard Brautigan’s books. So. About which dead writer would you be most happy to hear that a previously unpublished manuscript had been discovered?

    For myself, I’m patiently awaiting the discovery of “The Nazarene: My Story in My Own Words” by Jesus H. Christ (with Bill Moyers).

  8. Machado de AssisI know he’s
    Machado de Assis

    I know he’s not with us any more, but I always encounter books Machado de Assis has written that I didn’t know existed, and always buy them.

    Someone mentioned Robert Stone, who I agree with. Though I’ve slacked off lately.

    I would pick up any new Steven Millhauser book that emerged, but I haven’t read all of his past collection, so that statement might be only half true.

    Guilty pleasures: Safran Foer and Yann Martel, but they haven’t written many books. And lately I’ve taken to reading books that are being adopted into film soon. If there is a book I am at all interested in being made into film, I will read it, just because I don’t want the film to ruin it for me.

  9. I’m not a big magazine guy,
    I’m not a big magazine guy, but I think every magazine I own has Thompson on the cover.

  10. Dan Brown? I hope that’s a
    Dan Brown? I hope that’s a joke, ’cause Dan Brown is about one step away from selling his literary soul to the devil in a snuff film, right before the scene where Stuart Woods defiles the corpse of Diana Trilling’s husband on the yacht that he bought with the proceeds from his latest book.

  11. RilkeWhitman, Neruda,

    Whitman, Neruda, Emerson, Cummings; the list goes on, but again, they’re all dead and poets. So it’s easier to commit to because if it’s a bad poem, it’s over in a page or two and then onto the next. I cannot think of one modern author whose book I would buy sight unseen. I’ve had too many disappointments. Yeah, I like Bukowski but c’mon, you definitely gotta be in the mood for him. And Updike? I must give him another chance. “Couples” was it? I don’t like to buy books that I will “get around to” — unless it’s something really rare — it’s too easy to leave them on the shelf.

  12. *Coffee spews from my
    *Coffee spews from my astonished mouth*

    Are you trying to egg on Jamelah?

    And by the way, why haven’t you posted anything lately?
    Where in the world is Caryn San deEggo?

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