Sarah Weinman’s blog jarred this one loose.
When I was a teenager, the community center in Wilde Lake Village Center screened old films. I saw Psycho and Amarcord. I loved both, but especially enjoyed Amarcord, which made me wonder if I might really be smart, after all. (See “cheese, love of,” elsewhere on this page.)
But I was most affected by The Ragman’s Daughter, adapted from Alan Sillitoe’s short story. To this day, I don’t know if it was a “good” film or not, or what its critical reputation is; the short story was justifiably well-regarded and, for all I know, the movie was a soppy, sentimental mess. But it inspired in me an almost secretive affection, as if I feared that loving it revealed something about me. I don’t remember speaking to anyone of it, and there seemed to be something almost covert in my purchase of the anthology. (Purchased for $2.98, but where, when? My hunch is I didn’t buy the book until almost 10 years later in San Antonio, for it’s a former library copy, marked “Salvage” and although the name of the library has been inked out, it’s still legible — “Kelly Air Force Base.”)
Odds are, I purchased it at the used book store that sat between Broadway and the shady Avenue B, which ran along the eastern edge of Brackenridge Park. I can’t remember the name (Second-Hand Books? Something prosaic) but I remember the smell, and the feeling of excitement whenever I entered, knowing that I could leave with an armful of hardcover books for no more than $20.