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