Saturday, October 25, 2014

Story of the Judas Goat

In Honolulu there is an annual event called the Friends of the Library Booksale where for one week every summer this organization uses the McKinley high school cafeteria as a giant bookstore. They fill tables with all types of books: Mystery, Hawaiiana, Fiction, Politics, Biography, Cookbooks, Childrens, VHS tapes, etc.  The items are less than $5 each and on the last two days everything is half price or fifty cents.  There are older editions, out of print titles, diamonds in the rough, as well as a lot of inexpensive books (hundreds of James Patterson titles).  One reason this event is so popular is that there are not very many bookstores on Oahu and almost no used bookstores.  The stores that sell used books are often small or the used section is a tiny area in a regular bookstore.  There are no Half Price Books or Moe's like they have in Berkeley with endless aisles of used titles.  So this annual library books sale is quite an event every summer, and you are almost guaranteed to run into someone you know at the book sale.

I have always been more of a library guy.  I borrow books read them and return for another person to enjoy.  Up until my late twenties I only owned a handful of books most of them reference or required for school.  Truth be told I am still more of a library guy but as I've gotten older I find myself more willing to buy books.  (Side note I do collect items kitschy things, comics, koa items, memorabilia, so why not books).  I had been to this books sale once or twice when I was very little and my mom bought me some random Batman and Superman comics.  Then I did not return until 2005 and I bought a coffee table book "A Day in the Life of Hawaii" and a snorkeling book for a girl I was dating at the time.

It was not until the 2009 book sale when I started my annual attendance and my search for The Judas Goat.  As some of you readers may remember 2009 was a bit of a bad year (click here to read about 2009), by the summer I was at a new job working at Barnes and Noble and trying to find my way in the world.  As I was feeling lost and in a routine I was not super happy with I found myself turning to books more than ever.
Got Books?

I have been a fan of mystery books since I was little (Encyclopedia Brown Anyone?) one of my favorite authors (mystery or otherwise) is Robert B. Parker (he sadly passed away in January 2010, but he died at his desk writing!).  His books were immensely popular (70s-00s) and spawned the TV Series "Spenser for Hire" and the "Jesse Stone" TV Movie series, as well as the big screen western Appaloosa. Parker is the author that made me want to read mysteries as an adult and eventually write mystery books for my in progress Master of Fine Arts degree.  The first book I read of his was The Godwulf Manuscript a true heir to Chandler and Phillip Marlowe.  It is one of the few books I've read more than once.  The novel features Parker's Private Investigator Spenser searching for the medieval book of the title and running into corruption, cults, and murder at a Boston University Campus.

By 2009 I was on the fifth book in the Spenser mystery series: The Judas Goat.  This book is less of a mystery and more of an adventure and character study. Spenser is hired to track down and kill a terrorist group who killed (collateral damage style) a millionaire's family and left the millionaire in a wheelchair.  While most of the books take place in Boston, this entry finds Spenser traveling to London and Canada.  Along for the ride is Spenser's badass friend Hawk who carries a shotgun under his leather coat.

The Hardcover Edition I passed on
So back to me. I attend the 2009 book sale and I went back several times during the week.  One day I find an old hardcover edition of The Judas Goat.  It is a copy that has been withdrawn from the library circulation so it is a little beat up.  There is a 1970s style blue and yellow cover, as well as a cool synopsis and bio that are not on the paperback editions.  I flip through the book and wonder if I should buy it.  Then I think to myself that I'm already reading a paperback copy from the library and was about half way done.  I put the hardcover edition back on the table and move on.  The next day I read the novel in one of those reading frenzies where you can't put the book down and you're up till late at night flipping the pages until the end.  I finish the book, and I loved it.  As I turn out the light on my nightstand I decide to return to the book sale and buy the hardcover edition.

As you probably guessed I went back and searched for hours and could not find that hardcover edition I had put back on the shelf.  Someone bought it during my time of wishy-washiness.  From that day forward I vowed to find myself a used older edition of The Judas Goat.  For the next four years I returned to the book sale searching for this one specific book.  It became something of a game I played with myself in every used book store I went into I checked the mystery section for a copy of this book.  I never found it.  Although I always looked for the book I began to tell myself it would never be, I would never find it.

August 2014. I was in a bit of a funk (actually I guess like all people the funk comes and goes).  On this day the funk was there.  I went down to Berkeley looking to purchase something to make me feel better (I know not the best tactic but it was what I was doing at the time).  I purchased some comic books on Shattuck Ave. Ghostbusters ongoing series (that sadly ended in September 2014) is something wonderful to behold but I still felt a little sad because I had not been reading Ghostbusters just purchasing the issues and saving them to read when I had time.

On my way back to the car I was passing Moe's Books. I had been there several times before and always looked for the book but never found it. I decided to play my game and headed for the basement where the used mystery books are kept.  I scanned the Parker area and I thought I saw the title. I passed it and then my eyes darted back.  There it was on the shelf.  A different edition than I had ever seen.
Finally Found!
I grabbed it, used my Moe's store credit and it was mine.  On the drive home I kept reaching into my bag to see if the book was still there.  I was afraid it might have vanished or all been a dream.  But no I had achieved my goal and my five year search had come to an end.  It is a strange feeling, now when I enter a used bookstore I have no set goal I find myself wandering aimlessly.  Sometimes I still look for The Judas Goat just to see if it is there.  I am not sure why I have decided to tell you all this story.  I guess I could say when you really are searching for something you may eventually find it.  I am truly grateful that I have the opportunity (due to my life and surrounding) to play a book game like this and not worried about starvation and military uprisings.  I guess that shall be my end this is something I want to share because it took up a large part of my life and also to say thank you for that life.  Sorry if that is abrupt, I'm going to go read The Judas Goat now :)