August 14, 2004


The remodeling makes every aisle a tight squeeze. He was a half-section ahead of me on the fiction new arrivals cart, so it was like I was following him through. Every few minutes, I would chase up on him, give a little "excuse me", he would back up or tilt his entire torso so that I could get in to read the spines too. I did not want to be obtrusive, so I just got down on all fours, eye level to the shelves. In the tight proximity, I could smell his feet, sour and sockless in torn-up leather boat shoes like the one's my dad wore on weekends. I was looking for books about god. I imagined he was looking for Ayn Rand.

I have to remind myself not to be seduced by saturated candycolor on the spines. Titles and authors conglom into a half-familiar romance of names, I roll their jumble around on my tongue trying to decifer which ones I recognize from recommendation and which ones come from somnambulant recollection due to sleeping through an hour of NPR every morning. I do not want to leave until I can get at them all. New Arrivals, Fiction, Poetry, War (sorted by decade, then country), Autobiography, Art, Myth... I want to touch them and chew them. Eat and injest all the rows. I want all of them.

Then, out of habit, I check on my four favorite books, seeing if they are in stock. Just to check. Just to see them.

Traded Moneyball (got to the second page, remembered I barely comprehend baseball), some overbearing Jong-volumes, Foucault on semiotics ( at least thats what I thought it was about), Generation Ecstacy (sorry), Everett's Ramones book (iconic yes, heroic and compelling enough to read about for more than a chapter: neigh) and some bad book club fodder someone passed on for greater good. Their space on my shelves now to be taken up by collected Lowell , a new translation of the myth of Pope Joan , some Wanda Coleman , and as I do with every trip to Myopic -- an additional copy of Didion's The White Album to give away next time someone needs it.

On the back of the dust-jacket, her author portrait takes up a full page. Just her, staring, but with immutable presence - her mind is fixed, her eyes locked on some low horizon (I imagine she's starting at a child in a pool, or someone docking a boat) . This copy, this book, someone loved enough to let it be used to drive a nail into the wall - there are nail-head pocks and impressions all over her broad cheekbones.

Posted by Jessica at August 14, 2004 05:41 PM | TrackBack