I was going down Eighth Avenue in Chelsea when I saw this title for sale on the sidewalk. Needless to say, I came screeching to a halt. First I should explain that books are a rarity in this part of Manhattan. You can walk down Eighth from 23rd to 14th and find nary a book or CD, unless you count Gay Love Signs and the music of Junior Vazquez. It goes to disprove the hurtful stereotype that the gay demographic is arty and sophisticated. Yet here in front of the Rite Aid was a fine, eccentric assortment of used books — Lenin at Iskra, The Collected Tales of Pierre Louÿs, stray volumes of Trollope and Thackeray and Irving, prewar travel guides, and the like. I hope these sellers come back regularly with their van and chihuahua. I went away with The Strange Death of President Harding ("from the diaries of Gaston B. Means") and Maxim Gorky's Mother. There was nothing strange scribbled in them, admittedly, but the opening paragraph of Harding is odd enough in itself: "'If Gaston Means should talk!' I almost spoke the words aloud as I stepped my six foot, two hundred pound avoirdupois through the iron-grilled outer door of the Altanta Penitentiary on the forenoon of the 10th day of July 1928, and breathed once again for the first time in three years the sweet clean pure air of God's outside world." I'll delve deeper into the mystery when I have the time. The scholar/critic Caleb Crain, who, I'm delighted to find, has a blog with the brilliant title Steamboats Are Ruining Everything, has posted his own book-collecting curiosities.