Posts tagged with "bookstore" - Faerye Net 2009-05-01T10:20:54+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Buy Indie Day 2009-05-01T10:20:54+00:00 2009-05-01T10:22:22+00:00 <p>So I <a href="" target="links">hear</a> that today is <a href="" target="links">Buy Indie Day</a>, a day you celebrate by buying a book at your local independent bookstore. You know this is more relevant to my interests than <a href="" target="links">Beltane</a>, so I thought I&#8217;d talk it up here.</p> <p>There are as many reasons to shop at indie bookstores as there are stores. One of the important ones, though, even if you aren&#8217;t kneejerk anti-corporate like the average Portlander (seriously, I once met a raving anti-corporate hipster <em>getting trained to work for Starbucks</em> here), is that books are one of the most crucial forms of &#8216;speech&#8217;. An independent bookstore can provide a more diverse perspective than a big store may be interested in doing; many of them sell used books, making sure ideas are cheap and stay in circulation. Whether they have a specific focus &#8212; mystery books, feminism, local authors, poetry, et c. &#8212; or not, each store provides its own set of books and possibilities, not one mandated from further up or dictated purely by market forces.</p> <p>To be honest, I have a hard time even formulating cogent arguments for why you should go to your local independent bookseller. It feels like arguing that you should try drinking water, or breathing air. I grew up piling in the car every other weekend for a family junket to <a href="" target="links">Powell&#8217;s</a> downtown. We didn&#8217;t usually have a specific book on our minds, or a particular birthday to buy for. We just liked going there, walking our little instinctive circuit &#8212; in my case and my dad&#8217;s, an in-depth look at the Paleontology/Dinosaurs shelves, then a quick search of Photography, followed by a cruise of sci-fi &#8212; seeing what we could see.</p> <p>That&#8217;s one of the beauties of the indie bookstore, I think. You never know what you&#8217;re going to find. You venture into a little storefront in a strange town because that bookstore could hold anything from a treasure trove of old pulp paperbacks to an extensive collection of Civil War history and memoir, from a labyrinth of bursting shelves to a fabulous place to drink coffee and read. You could find bargains or forgotten childhood joys, or just a way to soak away an hour in the shelves and booksmells of a new place. Even a bookstore you know surprises you every time.</p> <p>So hit the <a href="" target="links">IndieBound Store Finder</a> and buy a book near you today. Who knows what you&#8217;ll find?</p> "Better because it's true" 2008-07-04T10:48:40+00:00 2008-07-04T10:49:33+00:00 <p>A few months ago, I spent a lot of time hanging around big-box bookstores. I visited the local Borders and B&#38;N daily in hopes of surprising my <a href="" target="links">first published work</a> on its first shelved day. The local Borders was more convivial and boasted more clearance racks of stationery, so I lingered there longer and noticed that there were two major genera of employees. One day, every counter would be occupied by listless, asymmetrically-coiffed young men with pendant chins; the next, by cheery middle-aged women with long hair and an ineffable air of library.</p> <p>It was one of these latter beings, friendly though they seemed, that shocked and distressed me. Standing in line one day, I listened to the woman at the counter chatting about books with the soccer mom before her with such loquacity that it gave you hope for the brick &#8216;n&#8217; mortar bookshop. The customer, recognizing a font of literary enthusiasm when she saw it, asked for recommendations: light, funny reading.</p> <p>The bookseller immediately launched into an elevator-pitch for a book she&#8217;d just read about an eccentric family, &aacute; la <em>Royal Tenenbaums</em>. As the customer obligingly chuckled, she finished, &#8220;I simply loved it, and it&#8217;s a memoir, so it&#8217;s better because it&#8217;s true!&#8221;</p> <p>Gentle reader, I gaped. Perhaps this underlying value statement is more than evident given the publishing world&#8217;s memoir obsession; perhaps you even agree with it on some fundamental level. But for this fictionist, the implicit statement that the same work would be a &#8220;good&#8221; novel and a &#8220;great&#8221; memoir was chilling.</p> <p>Is this true? And if so, why? There may be greater artistry involved in making a truly compelling narrative without breaking the bounds of personal history. But surely that lack of inventive liberty is balanced by the artistry necessary to create such a narrative out of whole cloth. Why is the book not its own achievement, to be judged on its own merits, on the world between its pages?</p> <p>Is the act of reading different if the reader believes the narrative to be reported fact? If the reader were not told until the end whether the book were memoir or novel, would her &#8220;star-rating&#8221; change upon hearing? And if so, what does that mean for our enjoyment of books &#8211; that we use them as artifacts, not just art; that we are unduly influenced by the biography of the author? Or does it simply mean we expect less of memoir?</p> <p>There are plenty of issues raised, many questions around the primacy of memoir in today&#8217;s writing market. Many of them, I hold, would benefit from the attention of fictionists as well as of nonfictionists. But I will stop this ramble here for now, and ask: do you agree with the Borders lady, reader? Is a satisfying, rollicking good read <em>better</em> if it&#8217;s true?</p>