Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A sink of malignancy

After a particularly stressful meeting last week, I popped into a used bookstore to destress before heading home. I hesitated over a copy of Bruno Schulz's Sanatorium under the Hourglass but turned it down because it smelled funny — I mean, really funny; but I came out with a gem, The Victorian Chaise Longue, by Marghanita Laski (1953). It's been reissued recently by Persephone Books, and I've heard wonderful things about it in various corners of le bloguemonde (from Danielle, among others). While the recommendations were strong, the cover art on the 1960 paperback I found is irresistible.

Equally enthralling is the ad copy inside:

Are you fond of old-fashioned furniture?

Be careful.

Furniture is inanimate — but it is occupied by animate beings subject to fear, love, despair, hatred, happiness — the myriad feelings of which humans are capable. And who knows what the life-span of terror may be? Who can tell what identity one may find woven into a plush old velvet chaise-longue, or what determines the time and setting for acting out a drama of horror?

Be careful. Your antique bargain may be a sink of malignancy.

Just waiting.

I paid about 5 times the 35-cent price boasted on the spine; still a bargain, but this prospect of malignancy has me a bit concerned.


Gaelicgrl said...

Oh, I absolutely cannot resist vintage copies.

That sounds like a gem.

Maxine said...

Gosh, I read this when I was 17 or 18 and enjoyed it a lot. I read a few others by her, but only this one and one other stick in my mind. Have just checked on Amazon and it is "little boy lost". These two books were very well thought of, and popular, in their day.

Girl Detective said...

Do you think Edward Gorey was making fun of this book with his naughty The Curious Sofa?

Isabella said...

Interesting connection, Girl Detective. I have my copy of the Gorey at the ready. Once I've read Laski, I'll report my findings.

dovegreyreader said...

This was the first book I read by Laski and it has haunted me ever since. I took it along to a themed book group evening recently meaning to have re-read it but actually couldn't bring myself to do it.
Much as I love the Persephone books I do search them out in original editions too.

cipriano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cipriano said...

Looks WILDLY interesting.
Isn't it neat to find an old [nice-smelling] gem like this?
Someone else's discarded.... thingy.
Your treasure.