Yesterday, I took a walk and wandered into one of the OUT OF THE CLOSET thrift stores that brighten the world here in Southern California. This is my favorite place to look for books — because the people who contribute have great taste in literature and the prices are the low, low, lowest anywhere.

My three finds on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, we among the best I’ve ever hit. Is this the way people who play slot machines feel when three cherries appear? I paid just $1 for each of these books — and all were in beautiful condition.

Without further ado, here they are (along with a passage from each)…

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“The address that Patrolman Mancuso was looking for was the tiniest structure on the block, aside from the carports, a Lilliput of the eighties. A frozen banana tree, brown and stricken, languished against the front of the porch, the tree preparing to collapse as the iron fence had done long ago. Near the dead tree there was a slight mount of earth and a leaning Celtic cross cut from plywood. The 1946 Plymouth was parked in the front yard, its bumper pressed against the porch, its taillights blocking the brick sidewalk. But, except for the Plymouth and the weathered cross and the mummified banana tree, the tiny yard was completely bare. There were no shrubs. There was no grass. And no birds sang.” From the novel A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES by John Kennedy Toole, first published by Grove Press in 1980 (and winner of a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for the author).

THE GROVE PRESS READER 1951-2001, edited by S.E. Gontarski, also features work by Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, Marguerite Duras, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Jean Genet, D.H. Lawrence, Harold Pinter, and scores of other leading authors of this half-century in international arts and letters.

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The cover blurb of THE AMERICAN NIGHT: The Writings of Jim Morrison, Volume 2 reads: “A literary last testament from rock’s poet of the damned.” (Is that really a sales pitch?) As most breathing humans (and some animals) know, Jim Morrison (1943-1971) was the driving force of the seminal 1960s band, The Doors.

AN AMERICAN PRAYER (Excerpt)

by Jim Morrison

Do you know the warm progress

under the stars?

Do you know we exist?

Have you forgotten the keys to the Kingdom?

Have you been born yet

& are you alive? 

Let’s reinvent the gods, all the myths

of the ages

Celebrate symbols from deep elder forests

[Have you forgotten the lessons

of the ancient war]

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And, finally, one of my all-time favorite books — I’ve given away probably 10 copies of ON WRITING by Stephen King and always snap up a copy when I find one.

Here are some words of wisdom from the writing wizard: “I believe that plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible…my basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them a place to grow (and transcribe them, of course)…stories are found things, like fossils in the ground…stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”