A Fine Day Inside My Local Book Vendor
“Why?” she asked, “Why do you always spend so long in the bookstore?”
I told her that I spent so long in the bookstore because I am feeling bad and when I am feeling bad I find it helps to be in a room full of products produced by men and women who have also felt bad. It grants me some sense of possibility. I mean, to shown that something can be done even under such crushing circumstances.
“What circumstances?” Was my answer not satisfactory? Christ was also asked a lot of questions prior to the cross.
“You know, just in general.” That was the truth. In general, circumstances were abysmal. Under the microscope though, it was my birthday and I was turning 22 and I had just talked to my mother.
She was referring to an incident that occurred a few hours ago. She had been looking for me all day. She went to my apartment, called my phone, the whole nine, et al. and etc. I always turn my phone off when I am inside of a bookstore. I’m not sure if this is a result of reverence for the books or a result of my overall need for moments of solitude.
I was lurking inside of a Barnes & Noble. In my right hand was a time-honored classic by Arthur Miller and in my left was some psychological horror thingy by someone I’ve never heard of but whose authorial biography informed me that he was also a computer analysis executive. I kept looking at both books. Why read something by Arthur Miller? Really, why buy something by Arthur Miller? I know how it goes. We all know how it goes. Drama drama talk talk downfall talk reconcile downfall downfall end. It wasn’t worth my hard earned 14.95. The other book, though I was ashamed of myself, I simply couldn’t bring myself to buy because of the author’s biography. I felt judgmental and simple but honestly did not want to give an executive of anywhere a single fucking dime. Maybe he could write. It’s possible. Anyone can write. Also, it’s possible that no one can write. I put both books back on the wrong shelf.
An hour later I’m sitting Indian style with a nonsensical pile of maybe 15 to 22 pieces of literature. I was clutching my Pumpkin Spice Late from the in-store Starbucks. I was a reader. Ugh.
So there I was surrounded by words and I was thinking that perhaps my theory about feeling better in the bookstore had a few cracks in it or rather, had no grounding in reality whatsoever. Leering at my stack of potential purchases I realized that in order to read a book that was written merely as a means of survival, one must reach back at least 50 years, perhaps more. People such as Carson McCullers, Henry Miller, Louis-Ferdinand Celine and a few others had to write or else be washed away by that which they failed to place upon the page. But on September 24, 2008 it is very difficult to connect with the tribulations of these fine folks. The most abstract of these author’s sentiments hold up, but while we may be living in a depression, we are not living in the depression.
Naturally, I turned to the “New Fiction” section and scoured the shelves for books that appeared to be written in the last year or so. To my horror, but not necessarily to my surprise, I couldn’t find a single book not written by a non-professor or a non-recipient of the genius grant. Not to say that professors lack the ability to write, Sartre was a professor of something or another, but I am saying that there should be someone else to whom we can turn. Regardless I put a few of the books in my pile.
A nice boy with a nametag came over to the little fortress I had built. “Excuse me sir,” he began, “but we can’t allow you to drink that beverage so near the books.” I asked him if I appeared as though I wasn’t going to buy anything and he told me that wasn’t the issue. I might damage the books. “If I damage the book,” I said to him, “and I’m going to buy the book anyway…why does it matter if I am in possession of a ‘damaged’ book? I get coffee on all of my books anyway. I don’t mind.” He countered by telling me that I might not buy all of those books. Which was true, but how did he know? Who was he? His nametag read John but that’s not what I mean. “Which one of these would you recommend?” I asked, while motioning toward my pile. He then confessed “None of those look very familiar.” I thanked John, got up, left the pile as is and shuffled out of there. I was very ashamed at having not written a decent book, or a book at all. I could not provide a solution to that which I am complaining about. Who can?
Driving out of the B&N and heading east on the boulevard, I noticed an adult fantasy superstore on my left. The name of the store flashed in pink and white lights – INSERECTION. I laughed. It was the finest example of creative writing I had seen all day.