If you listen real close, you can hear me gritting my teeth.

It’s end of the month, and I am broke. In fact, I am beyond broke – uber-bankruptcy would be the right word.

Hence, not a good time to enter Landmark Book Store, Nungambakkam, Chennai.

But the flesh is weak. I sauntered up to the manga section which, strangely, is located somewhere in the middle of the children’s section while the rest of the graphic novels are just next to the entrance. Quite a few of the usual Del Rey suspects – Negima, Azumanga Daioh, xxxHolic and all – but the first one my eyeballs locked onto was vol 1 of Crying Freeman. The next moment, I was a crying Freeman myself, having observed the 594 INR price tag at the back of the book. Glanced wistfully at the pages – Ryuichi Ikegami’s artwork embellishing Kazuo ‘Lone Wolf’ Koike’s story about an assassin is something right up there in my Wish List, but no, goddamnit. I wasn’t spending any money today. No freaking way. Returned the book to its place. Went to the normal graphic novel section and winced harder at the sight of the hardbound edition of Jessica Abel’s La Perdida. The art was terrific, but again, flipped through the pages and kept it back.

Found out that Landmark has also begun stocking Los Bros Hernandez’s Love and Rockets books, at a stunningly low 295 Rs each. Amazing! How can Fantagraphics books afford to be so cheap, inspite of a cover price of 14.95$?? My friend opined that it was probably a mistake – and promptly picked up volume 1. I tried asking around to see if they had Palomar and Locas, the complete Love and Rockets collections from the two brothers. They didn’t. Oh well. I read the first volume of Oldboy – the manga in the store, which left me marvelling at the apt storytelling choices Park Chan-wook opted for while making a movie out of it.

And then I made my way to the sci-fi/fantasy section, and promptly regretted the decision.

Day Watch was out – the English version of the second book in Sergei Lukyanenko trilogy. Priced at 698, by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth! And Ramesh Menon’s Bhagavat Purana, which has got to be the thickest standalone book I’ve ever seen. Should be about 1300 pages. 995 Rs. After I was done with the soft-sobbing-while-being-curled-into-foetal-position in the corner of the section, I called retail therapy. In other words, Krishna of Bookworm – who cheered up a so-far-dreary day by not only having both books in stock, but also using the magic words “twenty five percent discount” in the same context.

Update: Chandru was in Chennai yesterday, and he bought Crying Freeman for me. What can I say – the flesh is weak. Oh right, I already said that.

Update 2: Chandru also bought La Perdida. *Sigh*

Update 3: There is an eBay seller who’s put up five Crying Freeman volumes and nine of Wounded Man, another of Koike-Ikegami’s collaborations. And he’s shipping internationally too. Hrmmm.

* * *

It’s official. If Samit Basu is channelling Neil Gaiman in his user-friendly, accessible-fantasy-writer-prone-to-bouts-of-mythology in his work, Sarnath Bannerjee is channelling Grant Morrison in his cheery outlook to writing. The guy most remembered for the mess that was Corridor, has come up with Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers, his second work, and this is what he says about himself – “I am always at the fringe. I am the fringe of literature. I am at the fringe of art- its a very comforting space.” and about his work – “It’s a dark mysterious story which lot of it is me. It’s reality slipped into magic and magic slipping into reality with ease. Despite all the movement in space and time, the narrative is much more linear and much more rounded off.” How very novel. If you haven’t been reading Morrison’s semi-coherent interviews for the last couple of years, that is.