This year, it was the rope-a-dope they won with two or three years ago. I hit the main store with luagha (after a fully triumphant run to Queen of Sheba to pick up some preserved lemon -- Moroccan food in 2009 is the plan) and managed, by might and main, to keep the whole bill under three digits. Sure, it involved turning down such fine works as Richard Ramsbotham's Who Wrote Bacon? (it was a Rosicrucian-inspired James I who was the Hidden Hand!) and Stephen Quayle's magnum opus (I kill me) Genesis 6 Giants: Master Builders of Prehistoric and Ancient Civilizations -- as well as slightly more serious books such as Prophet for a Dark Age: A Companion to the Works of Rene Guenon by Graham Rooth, Terra Incognita: Mapping the Antipodes before 1600 by Alfred Hiatt, and the thin but still palpable Mozart and the Masons by H.C.R. Landon.
Perhaps worst of all, I had to leave unplowed what looked like a new furrow of Occult Nazi scholarship, New Religions and the Nazis by Karla Poewe, and miss out on concentrated study of the artist Suzanne Treister's supremely goony Hexen 2039, a collection of art by her conspiracist, delusional, time-traveling alter ego Rosalind Brodsky that is considerably cleverer than that by real conspiracy nuts. (Buy me a drink and ask me about Fantasia some time.) As a last sacrifice, I put back on the shelf Strange And Dangerous Dreams, by Geoff Powter, a clutch of short biographies of dodgy, daffy, or deranged mountaineers (including our boy Aleister Crowley) which just cried out to be read in the light of Hastur-worship. But no, I was strong, like proverbial bull of Bashan.
Instead, I wreaked my havoc, Phil Sheridan-style, in the lush Shenandoah Valley of the used and remaindered book shelves. I picked up The Templar Meridians: The Secret Mapping of the New World by William Mann, which is just what it sounds like, The Discovery of Noah's Ark by David Fasold, which has plenty of other odd bits in its wreckage, and Opus Dei by John Allen, which is surprisingly not sensationalist once you get past the cover design. Plus a few good-looking normal books: Ancient Land, Sacred Whale: The Inuit Hunt and Its Rituals by Tom Lowenstein, an archaeological history of the Valley of the Kings by John Romer, Heavens On Earth: Utopian Communities in America 1680-1880 by Mark Holloway, and Symbolism (about the artistic movement, not the semiotic concept) by Robert Goldwater. The only book I bought new was one I'd marked for death last year, Architecture and Geometry in the Age of the Baroque by George L. Hersey.
And then, of course, we went to Pantheacon, where I saw xomec and torcboy all too fleetingly -- and promptly bought three more books at full retail from the Fields booth at the show. In my defense, von Rudloff's Hekate in Ancient Greek Religion costs $70 at that handy Amazon link but only $20 from the kindly Fields man, The Sutton Companion to British Folklore, Myths & Legends is from Sutton Books (which fine imprint I'm fully convinced has a cloned hank of my cerebral tissue working as its acquisitions editor), and I've liked everything Gary Lachman has written up to now, so I was willing to take a flyer on his retread of Webb's Occult Establishment, Politics and the Occult: The Left, the Right, and the Radically Unseen. Plus the sun was in my eyes, and Jeb Stuart got himself lost somewhere.
Next year, Fields! Next year.