Friday, February 12, 2016
Love on the shelf
If you cannot rebuke capitalism, then indulge in a local version of it.
As you can well guess, I think the best place to find love is a bookstore. Elliott Bay Books in Seattle is a passionate getaway for me. I will take you there if I love you. (Powell's in Oregon is like a week- long orgy. I am sore after going in there.)
Sure, you can use Amazon, but that's a lot like Tinder, now, isn't it? Why not go to a bookstore and browse? If you prefer an arranged marriage, there are actual matchmakers there to help you.
These people are called booksellers. They will help you: not necessarily find the book you are looking for but the one you need.
First, are the things in it made up or "real" (a dubious concept)? This is how Tom Nissley divides up Phinney Books in Seattle. Whether something is non-fiction, fiction, or poetry is up to you, and much is the same about our loved ones, is it not?
A quick book, or rebound, shall we say is often a good thing. I am not speaking of Junk Reading, although some could call it that.
A rebound book gets you through a difficult time, you probably won't re-read it, it often leaves you horny, and you can always give it to a friend. I would still recommend a real book in this case, although one can say that eBooks could do the job here. But with DRM in some cases it's not that easy.
I am not talking about books that are quickly read through and then tossed aside to read another in a series. That is the condition of book junkie: an individual addicted to plot and character formulas. I do not judge, but I also don't understand, and cannot know. Therefore—of book junkies who much simply pound their way through a book—I will remain silent.
Then there are the long-term books. The life-loves.
One sign of such a book is that it seldom goes out of print. Don't let that be a sure sign, though. It simply means a lot of people like it and so when they wear one out, or wish to pass this love along to someone they care for, they will purchase another book and the print runs continue. I have given away several copies of Borges Collected Fictions and I imagine this will continue.
If I meet you and you are under 10 and I like you—if I continue to like you—if you read: you will likely get a copy of The Hobbit because everyone needs a proper introduction to Tolkien's voice and world. Long after Jacksons' execrable adaptations have been forgotten, people will be buying the book.
If I meet you and you are say, 18 or so—if I like you very much—if you aren't sure you're a boy or girl or what you want to be—if you love words for their own sake: I will give you a copy of Carter's The Bloody Chamber. And maybe Fireworks.
If I meet you and you have no family or have been abandoned by yours—if you read and understand the deep places of the heart can sometimes be dry and beautiful and desolate—if you are building your own family out of the scraps of other families: I will give you Erdrich's mighty Love Medicine to keep the keel straight.
Those are a few of mine. Think about the true long-term books in your life. They need not be classics, but they have some sort of staying power because they speak of a story that is near to you. Moreover, they are written in such a way that allows you to fill in the gaps and add meaning: perhaps your own.
This is the sort of love medicine you need for February 14th.