Where Oh Where…

Mindfully shopping for items I don’t really need


A book that has been on my radar of “books to read” for a long while is Vegas: Memoir of a Dark Season by John Gregory Dunne. I come across the title occasionally in those listicle-type articles the internet is so great at. When the internet wants to suggest an interesting book to me, I click right in. #literaryclickbait

Dunne’s Vegas book, released in 1974 is, I’m pretty sure, out of print but I would like to get my hands on a copy to give it a try.

My library doesn’t have it which would be my first choice in accessing the work, but I might buy a copy if I could come across one.

With the library out of the running, my next choice is not to simply go to Amazon or any number of book re-selling web sites and buy a copy. I surely have searched for it on line and hovered over the buy button. But, I don’t NEED to possess the book, I’d just like to read it. For me it will be more interesting if I come across a copy in a pile of used books somewhere. My choice is to put the book title on a mental shopping list, and shop for it as the situation arises.

For me, the hunt for the book and the places my search takes me is more interesting than clicking “buy” and heading to the mailbox.  In many ways, the internet has taken away the thrill of the hunt.

I’ve heard people say that if you can think of something you want, anything at all, the internet probably has it; and, if you have enough money, you can probably buy it. Shoppers and collectors can accumulate items with a few clicks. It’s so easy and unlimited and tempting. That’s fine. Instant gratification has its place in our fast-moving society, no doubt.

For me though if I’m not shopping for necessities, I like to see where my search takes me. My main collection is miniature items (that is, I collect pieces of interest that are under 2 inches tall). I’ve been buying miniature animals, cars, and people (and all kinds of oddities) since I was 12 years old. There’s no theme to what I collect except for their size. I’ve found mini’s in jewelry shops, furniture stores, and artist’s studios. I find them on vacation (where they are super easy to pack for the trip home) and tooling around the neighborhood. I have around 1000 pieces and it’s a cool collection, in part because of the time I’ve put into putting it together.

Every now and then I Google miniatures to see what’s available via cyberspace. Even though miniature collecting is a tiny niche of the collecting universe, the number of hits is significant [About 122,000,000 results]. I suddenly have hundreds of thousands of options available to me at all price points. The internet showers me with all miniatures. I don’t find joy in shopping for new pieces  like this because a lot of fun of uncovering a rare item is diminished.

The internet isn’t a total buzz kill for me collecting-wise. What the internet has given me that approximates the thrill of collecting in person is on-line auctions. The type of miniatures I collect don’t come up often in auctions so I get the feeling of scarcity. The bidding process means I may, or may not, get to buy the miniatures which adds a bit of competition to the miniature collecting game. I might even have a story of out-bidding someone to add a layer of interest to the miniature when I put it on my shelf.

Anyway, I’ve been looking for John Gregory Dunne’s book for 2-3 years. I’ve made it a point to browse bookstores and used book sales whenever I get the chance. I’ve searched by myself, and with the help of patient friends. I’ve talk to several owners of small book stores on my travels. In short, I’ve had a lot of fun and no pay off. I’m sure one day I’ll come across the book and that will be a feeling clicking buy on Amazon just can’t match.

Original cover of Vegas: A Memoir of a Dark Season by John Gregory Dunne. Many serious book lovers say if you’re going to read one book about Vegas, it should be this, not William S. Burroughs’ Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

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