On a recent Washington Post list of best sellers, the predictable line-up of The T-Factor Fat Gram Counter and Revenge of the Baby-Sat was unpredictably followed by The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Published by Shambhala, this Thomas Cleary translation of a two thousand-year-old classic offers “wisdom in the palm of your hand.” Measuring 3 by 4 1/2 inches and selling for $6, this paperbound edition introduces the Shambhala Pocket Classics, which include Chogyam Trungpa’s Meditation in Action and Lao Tzu’s The Tao Teh Ching (translated by John C. H. Wu). According to Shambhala’s publisher, Sam Bercholz, the exact dimensions were invented in Halifax, Nova Scotia, “when my wife and I spent one foggy day cutting up pieces of paper.” But the idea of miniature classics harkens back to the European tradition of bookmaking to keep the likes of the Bible and the writings of Tolstoy in shirt pockets. Recasting the size in contemporary terms, Bercholz compares the attributes to a Sony Walkman: “mobile and intimate.”


Another classic in a small package: Bazooka bubble gum, that old intractable children’s favorite, on the candy counters with this classic misconception: confusing the meditation process that empties the mind with complete awareness, and bubble gum Joe’s kind of bazooka blankness.

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