Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2020 >Daily Dispatch #11

January 11, 2020: Bright Lights Big City (With no Apologies to Jay McInerney)

You step into the room, see books, lots of books, of all genres. The books on the left side of the room are in boxes, on tables, on the floor, on windowsills, and in bookcases. The books on the right side of the room are in crates, at floor level.

You are a book person; meaning you read a great deal and feel comfortable in settings where there are a multitude of books, book stores and libraries being the places where you, out of habit, feel most comfortable. In most instances, the books have been arranged on shelves, in a neat and orderly fashion.

When in bookstores, you cock your head to the right or the left; in the meantime, your head moves sideways and your eyes

the solstice book sale
The solstice book sale

go up and down. You’ve been doing this since you were young – your parents, both avid readers, did it this way, and you imitated them both.

But here, in this room, where books have been scattered about in a seemingly randomless fashion, you have no idea where to begin or how to proceed. A woman, small, older, wearing jeans and a sweater, looks up when you come in and smiles. You’re not the reason why she’s smiling. Rather, she’s smiling for yet another reason. You know this because she doesn’t make eye contact. Rather, she keeps making eye contact with the book in her hand.

You step further into the room and see that she’s holding a copy of J.D. Salinger’s Nine Short Stories. “This book,” she says to you, “It is a truly great book. Or, I used to think it was a great book. Now I’m not so sure. I’m not going to reread it now because I want to remember it as being a great book.”

You nod because you, who are also older, understand what she’s getting at. You feel this way about a book down next to your left foot. It’s by James Simon Kunen, and it’s entitled The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary. A line from this book then comes to mind: “The Communists make love and have babies. I swear to God they do.”

The woman resumes sorting, putting books in boxes on a long table. Every so often she owws or ahhs, this meaning that she’s found the right niche for the book in hand.

There are many books here, some familiar and some unfamiliar to you. You pick up the books on the floor that you are considering purchasing and put them in a tidy pile on the table. Then you stand for some time, wondering why the books aren’t on shelves.

The woman, seeing that you look mystified, doesn’t answer your question directly, but rather indirectly, saying that a few days before there were so many books lying about that people were getting from one place to the other, by leaping over the piles.

She asks just one question, this being, is this any way to run a book store? You nod your head and then shake it, this meaning yes and no.

Next: 12. 1/12/20: The State of the Farm Address

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles