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Trash Shopping on Hippie Christmas

August 15 is moving day in Madison, otherwise known as “Hippie Christmas.” Most leases here begin on August 15, so it’s common to see boxes stacked on porches, moving trucks in driveways, and trash piled on lawns. Combined with the August heat, it can be a pretty disgusting sight. If you’re willing to look beyond the stained mattresses and broken desk chairs, though, sometimes you can find a treasure or two. Yesterday, I picked up Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein in hardcover, as well as Henry Roth’s 1934 novel, Call It Sleep from a pile of discarded belongings near the curb. Both will make excellent, no-cost additions to my book collection.

The Stein collection will give me a good excuse to revisit some of my literary favorites from my English major days. I’ve got a some lofty footsteps to follow in, too. My 80-year-old grandmother is currently reading The Odyssey along with Harold Bloom‘s literary criticism of it. So don’t be afraid to pick up that Plato or Proust you see lying on the curb next to someone’s flattened U-Haul boxes and crumpled newspapers. My grandma might quiz you on it.


  • Kerry

    Hippie Christmas supports the wonderful culture of reusing. When I was a student at UW, it didn’t have a name, but everyone knew that they could find good stuff on August 15th. It is the art of gleaning at its best. Check out the painting called “The Gleaners” about woman gathering grain for themselves after a harvest. The film, ‘The Gleaners And I’ (2000) is a great film on gleaning in France. Now…go ahead & glean that trash. You are saving space in a landfill.

  • Susan

    Also on my reading list: Raymond Carver’s short stories, Salinger’s Franny & Zoe, To Kill a Mockingbird (yes, I am loathe to admit I’ve never read it)

  • Kristen

    so what else is on your reading list? I been going back to the classics, too, alternating them with new finds. So Wuthering Heights, followed by the Wind-up Bird Chronicles, then maybe On the Road? We’ll see.