First, there was the recommendation: Brittle Innings, by Michael Bishop. Then there was the long Sunday and looking it up on the 'net, finding the cover picture that promised a different but welcome tale, followed by the realization that a book published in 1994 could be thoroughly out of print, absent from the local used bookstores, and relatively (though not completely) unobtainable.
Now, the crash. A good book from a previous decade gone as if it had never been, flushed away from the shelves by mixed formula genres, extended role playing tie-ins, and several shelves of an imported genre into which I've yet to find my way. Not that I need another book--every flat surface around here is piled with them, including a different title by Michael Bishop, the aforementioned mixed formula books, and not a few role-playing tie-ins.
At this point, however, I'm going to regret the better books that get away. Reading is no longer a slightly subversive immersion, sinking into different perceptions while watching the world go by, it is the thing that I have five minutes to catch in a waiting room, a self-selected commercial break, twenty minutes away from the tottering list of chores before my house slips into Gormenghast territory. Better books make that immersion possible, even in short periods of time, whereas other books slip past with the speed of the present.