Tuesday, March 9, 2010

...Only the Rules Get Busted!

Why, oh why, isn't this back in print yet?

One of my greatest used bookstore finds ever was picking up the copy of Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story that you see right here:

It was the very early '90s and I was a Fast Times-obsessed geek of 12 or 13 who had it made my mission to find the book upon which the movie was based. I went into many of the same used bookstores over and over again, as well as the local Waldenbooks and B. Dalton stores at the mall, in a vain search. So, I couldn't believe it when, for the umpteenth time, I went into my favorite bookstore then and now, Montclair Book Center, asked if they had Fast Times, and was told, "Why, yes, we just happened to get a copy in and it's up front." Nowadays, I could just go online, visit eBay or ABE Book Search and plunk down $50+ for a copy without ever leaving my apartment. Back then, it cost me $8 plus tax. On top of that, I still have the priceless experience of going into a shop and finding something I'd spent a long time looking for. It's one of those "holy grail" experiences that, as a collector, whether it be of books, records, or movies, you lose when shopping over the internet.

My copy's in a little rougher shape than when I first bought it because a year or so after I got it, a girl I had something of a crush on, sweet talked me into letting her borrow it. She took my speech about its rarity only half seriously and the book came with the corners more bent than they were before and one section of the cover separated from the spine. Did I mention I was a little OCD about this stuff?

Years later, I found a tattered copy of the book in a used bookstore at the airport in Milwaukee of all places. It was faded and the spine was broken, but because of how hard it is to come by a copy, any copy, of Fast Times, I grabbed it. The book was in such poor shape that the clerk just gave it to me. I put it away and forgot about for years until my buddy Rupert told me how much he'd always wanted to read the book. "Well," I said, "if you don't mind a having a copy that's beat to hell, this one's yours." It arrived at Rupe's last night and, if I know him, he'll have his nosed buried in it once his baby daughter's put to sleep. Enjoy it, pal!


Rupert Pupkin said...

I must thank you again sir! I am indeed enjoying it already!!

Ned Merrill said...

It's a great read...I'm envious of you for getting to read it for the first time.

Anonymous said...

I picked up a copy of this when I worked at a used bookstore many years ago. I keep meaning to sit down and read it, but one of the reasons I keep procrastinating is that it's in great condition and I'm afraid of the glue coming apart! The one I have came out before the film and has a different cover.

Love your blog BTW. I saw it via the link on avmaniacs. Tons of great info here.

Ned Merrill said...


Thanks for stopping by and leaving such kind words! My advice: read the book! Unless, that is, you want to sell it and use some of the loot to buy a cheaper copy.

Dean Treadway said...

I have an original FAST TIMES poster I got Cameron Crowe to sign after I interviewed him back in 2002. He signed it "Have a bitchin' summer! Cameron Crowe." Very cool. Always wanted to read the original book!

Ned Merrill said...

You got me beat, Dean. I have a FAST TIMES one-sheet, but not with Crowe's autograph!