I went Chinese megabookstore-ing yesterday. It was at one of the most famous shopping streets of Beijing, so there were hordes of white people. They were starting to look funny, and I realized that French and English people look about as different as Chinese and Korean people. (The preceding sidenote has no relevance to the bookstore experience.)
First of all, there’s people selling little other, non-bookrelated stuff everywhere. Cellphone charms, trinkets, electronics, light-up gyroscopes, you name it. The salespeople’s pitches added to the din of thousands of interested people, all busily flipping through books.
We made a poor guy from Foreign/Imported books dig up a copy of The Jungle for me–I think he found it under a stack of Wuthering Heights. He looked like Professor Spit-a-lot from That’s So Raven. (again, irrelevant) That aisle must’ve had all the “good literature” that anyone could read, displayed more efficiently than any Barnes and Noble I’ve ever been to; too bad there were about 9 copies of Ethan Frome hanging out in plain sight, staring at me with their sleddy, lopsided eyes.
Then, we went to the music section, cuz ya know-that’s why I went back. On a really prominently displayed shelf, there was a row of four Henle edition books–Bach and Chopin. But there was only a tiny bit of Bach, and an equally tiny bit of Chopin! All the other editions were impossibly tiny and difficult to read–they made the 2 part inventions look totally foreign–so I
asked made my mom ask a salesperson where there’d be more Henles.
She said, “That’s it.”
I thought, “WTK??”
Igitur, Harmy did not buy much music. However, she did notice that there was more Czerny than anything (major gag and minor cringe), and that there were a whole lot of music theory/”sightsinging” books that were incomprehensible, cuz ya know, the illiterate one learned her theory in English. Reminds me of how I heard that the Quebeckan violinist from camp kept looking exasperated during the theory placement test.
Then we went imported-disking. They were legal, all of them, but still cheap, except for one. Apparently, classical CD’s are sold full price, USD x8 style, so it’s not quite worth the airfare to transport them. Besides, that’s what the Bibliotheca Pontis-Materiae is for. Also, all the Bruckner symphonies they had were conducted by Karajan, and he goes kinda fast.
Anyway, mine eyes saw a disk. Then it saw passacaglia. Then it saw Webern. Then the brain said, “Whoa, that’s the one where you pluck around and make a whole lot of noisy jumbalaya!” Besides Webern, there was Berg and ..Schoenberg. I started listening to it this morning. The odd intervals, strangely, make me want to dance, and there’s some really poultry-sounds that I’ve never heard before. Like playing with the stick of the bow, or a weird metallic scrape.
Strangely, I can like Webern but not Chopin. Romantic-era music makes me want to hide, if you make me play it. Actually, I’m pretty certain that it’s because my physical technique and ability to decipher rhythms and accidentals becomes woefully inadequate after Beethoven.