October 3, 2011
Bringing in the rest of the main stock that fucked up my knee in April (intern Forrest thus my arms and legs and swiftly doing everything but drive the van) we started to mull over the sections for the store. Our man Forrest is a sharp one, and great to bounce unclear ideas off and watch them resolve into focus. It’s still mutable, but after our talk and some further thinking (and unpacking) here they are: Fiction; Poetry; Drama; History (Old World and New World – where does Africa go? I think with the colonized over here.); Translations from Spanish; Punk/Queer; Politics; Art; Travel; Cities; (containing architecture, planning and urban history) Film; Languages; Criticism; Biography; Memoir (in so many of these, the lines blur – but I want to have sections that make you look at them all – I don’t have any books not worth reading); Skills and Hobbies; Expat Lit; Tech and Science; Psychology; Philosophy; Trash.
You’re probably noticing what’s not here: Horror; Sci-Fi; True Crime; Mystery; Comics. I’ve not been attracted to genres for most of my reading life since its beginning (when I gladly devoured Stephen King and Frederick Forsyth, for not much more reason than because they were around) and that, with its short shelf life, is most of what’s available in English at this city’s otherwise excellent used bookstores. My bias is beginning to change: an erstwhile hardcore prejudice against anything plotty has weakened under thorough enjoyment of H.P. Lovecraft (though he and I need to take a long break after the Cthulhu disaster – see my Wikipedia page) the Flashman novels, and my most recent discovery of George V. Higgins – and I know there’s many, many more writers who are ghettoized into genres whose work firmly transcends it. Why is No Country for Old Men literature, and Higgins’ strange, (and far more difficult) documentary-Beckett-in-Boston The Judgement of Deke Hunter not? What makes Poe canonical and his inheritors pulp? Is The Bridge at San Luis Rey really better than Salem’s Lot because it’s set in 17th century Peru? Chris Ware’s astonishing 90s graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan is a decades-post-dated continuation of the Modernist tradition of Joyce, Woolf and early Faulkner, and stands firmly with the unforgettable works of those predecessors. Should I put it on a shelf reserved for people who like pictures? I think these distinctions block people from great literary discoveries – in both directions. That said, there is a mountain of garbage printed and shoveled into these categories, and you will find it – Messrs Dan Brown, Stephanie Meyer, Dennis Cooper, Tom Robbins - gathered in a small section, as I said above, under ‘Trash’.
What’s missing? Let me know in the comments.