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B emailed me a Kindle copy of Fear.


I have zero interest in reading Fear. In fact, you could say my interest in reading Fear is a negative number.

Three days went by, and B emailed me Fear again.

I guess because I didn’t acknowledge it the first time.

I was raised by wolves who had no social graces whatsoever, so I had to teach myself manners; and I have what you might you might call an autodidactical zeal about acknowledging small kindnesses, writing thank you notes etc. For me not to acknowledge a gift is Unusual Behavior.

I didn’t want to get Fear a third time, so this time, I emailed B back: THANK YOU, all in block letters. With a smiley face.

He texted me back immediately, wanting to know whether I thought Brett Kavanaugh was going to be confirmed, and I thought, Dude! We haven’t communicated in weeks. You might want to start off the conversation by asking, “How are you? What’s new in your life?”

I was curt and dismissive.

But the text exchange did remind me that I’ve run out of books.

Camille has loaned me David Sedaris’s diaries, but that’s not exactly the type of book you immerse yourself in. That’s a book you skim, thinking, Wow! David Sedaris can write boring stuff, too!

So yesterday I set off for the quaint and picturesque village of Rhinebeck.

Rhinebeck has no grocery stores, gas stations, or dry cleaners, but it does have three (count ‘em) liquor stores, a number of upscale dining establishments, and an assortment of cute little shops that sell shit that nobody really needs but that do make you think for a fraction of a second, Hmmmm… Maybe my world would be more complete if I bought this adorable little Buddha-Meets-the-Day-of-the-Dead table lamp!

And it has Oblong Books.


First day of autumn. Miserable day. Cold. Grey. All I wanted to do was sleep.

I’d spent the morning generating income in the most boring manner imaginable, writing endless descriptions of automotive suspension systems for a new client who pays reasonably well. (Go ahead! Ask me about Nissan Altima struts! You know you want to!)

I have been living beyond my means thanks to the magic of credit cards, but really—that has got to stop.

Weird thing: I always feel incredibly ugly when it’s cold, grey, and miserable out. Ugly, invisible and old. Like self-confidence is some kind of thwarted photosynthesis.

Yesterday was no exception. I wandered through a host of cute little shops on my way to the bookstore. Not even the sales staff acknowledged my existence. Perfect opportunity to exercise your shoplifting skills!! thought some irrepressibly cheerful and anarchistic portion of my mind. But that was the wolf-training talking.

I ignored it.

When I finally got to the bookstore, there was absolutely nothing on the shelves.

I mean, there were hundreds of books.

But nary a single one I wanted to read.

Kind of a depressing revelation for a writer.

Oblong is the kind of place where staff members are encouraged to write reviews and paste them on the bookshelves. The reviews are always in pencil. Half the time, the books the reviews are touting are no longer on the shelves.

Also, I noticed a number of books that should have been on the shelves weren't. Like Tayari Jones’ American Marriage. Bestseller, right? Oprah’s Book Club selection! Were they sold out? Or was Algonquin Books, the publisher, no longer selling to Oblong because Oblong owed them too much money?

That happens a lot to independent bookstores. Cash flow is inevitably a huge problem for indie booksellers: No big-ticket items to offset the crunch when there aren’t enough customers buying small-ticket items. The stores end up featuring books from fewer and fewer publishers. A strange kind of selection bias built right into the business model.

So instead of buying books, I bought half a pound of milk chocolate truffles at Krauss.

And wandered off to what is absolutely my favorite store in Rhinebeck: A.L. Stickle 5 & Dime.

A.L. Stickle is a portal in time.

Step into it, and you’re immediately transported back to the 1960s when life was kinder, gentler, and a helluva lot cheaper.

How do they keep their prices so low?

They must own the building.

Anyway, here are a few of the treasures you can find at A.L. Stickle:

Buttons! In button tubes:

Fabulous toys:

Tea towels celebrating fifty, fifty U-Nited States from thirteen original col-o-neez:

And candy you remember from when you were a kid:

A.L. Stickle is quite the happy-making place:

Came home and watched the first three episodes of Maniac on RTT’s recommendation. Kinda Mr. Robot meets Wes Anderson. He’s right: It’s right up my alley. I liked it a lot.

But I still need something to read.

This entry was originally posted at http://mallorys-camera.dreamwidth.org. You may leave comments on either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal if you like.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 23rd, 2018 03:20 pm (UTC)
I must find a local supplier of Neccos. Wish I could suggest something mindblowing, literary-speaking, but I've been immersed in all things DEATH oriented and I know you don't want that. Poetry, shorts, novels, biographies. Also, purpley lyrical novellas because that's my guilty pleasure. I do utilize these reviews quite often - https://freebeacon.com/culture/ I will queue Maniac. I always feel dreadfully old and unattractive in the warmer months.
Sep. 24th, 2018 01:03 pm (UTC)
Are you on Goodreads, E? That's my go-to site for book recommendations.

I'm gonna nudge you away from Maniac. I think you'd find it annoyingly superficial.

Do you do subtitles? Babylon Berlin is awfully good.
Sep. 23rd, 2018 06:44 pm (UTC)
Well, that photo of CANDY really caught my eye!
Sep. 24th, 2018 01:04 pm (UTC)
Ha, ha, ha!
Sep. 23rd, 2018 09:35 pm (UTC)
I can picture you in every single one of those places <3 <3

What about George Saunder’s Tenth of December ? K recommended it to me and I loved it and started a Saunder’s binge. He cracks me up.
Sep. 24th, 2018 01:05 pm (UTC)
Tenth of December is short stories, isn't it? I have read a fair number of Saunders' short stories (in anthologies), and I do like them a lot. But I'm pining for a big, immersive, squashy novel!
Sep. 24th, 2018 01:28 am (UTC)
Wow! I used to have those Gumby and Pokey rubber dolls with wires inside.

Did they have Black Jack or Clark's Teaberry gum? I haven't seen those in a long time.
Sep. 24th, 2018 01:01 pm (UTC)
I think they do. They have all sorts of retro candy; this was just a small selection.
Sep. 24th, 2018 03:23 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen this one in a really long time:

Sep. 24th, 2018 03:27 pm (UTC)
Hmmmmm! That's a new one for me!
Sep. 24th, 2018 01:46 pm (UTC)
I dunno if you have a Half Priced Books near you, but I've found them to have a pretty impressive selection and well organized for a used book store.

Like all used book stores, it's probably better to have a general idea of something you'd like or your Goodreads list close at hand rather than a specific title you MUST have. But still, I usually have no trouble walking in and thinking, "Oh, yeah, I was meaning to read that one." I speed read Lena Dunham's biography (liked it a lot more than I thought I would! Though I know lots of people hate her). I'm in the middle of Megan Abbott's "The Song Is You," one of her '50s Hollywood noir books based off a real case (liking it a lot!). Both of those were from Half Priced Books.

I've been getting more into audiobooks lately, too.
Sep. 24th, 2018 02:17 pm (UTC)
I read your Goodreads reviews very often because you and I have very similar tastes when it comes to fiction and memoirs.

I saw your Lena Dunham review! :-)

No Half Priced Books around here, I fear! I live in the boonies. The Hudson Valley Library system is my main book supplier.
Sep. 24th, 2018 02:57 pm (UTC)
Tayari Jones’ American Marriage was a good read. I read it before the hype and chose it as my book club selection this year and so far it fostered the longest discussion. I've had a hard time finding books to read lately too. It feels like all the this is what 45's administration is really like books are the only new ones on the shelves.
Sep. 24th, 2018 03:07 pm (UTC)
lifeinroseland and I went to see Tayari Jones interviewed at The Brooklyn Book Festival. American Marriage was the book I was specifically looking for at Oblong!

And I am done reading Ain't-It-Awful-type books about the Trump Administration. It's almost as if media is secretly glad he's in power 'cause it gives them the opportunity to hype headlines and tell-alls.
Sep. 24th, 2018 05:44 pm (UTC)
Wow I would have loved that I wish we had more of that type of thing in my area.

Yeah it's a brain drain I haven't read any of them. What's the point when the media is reporting on his every move and tweet? I don't think my "don't give a flying fig" meter could take an "in depth" report.
Sep. 24th, 2018 05:58 pm (UTC)
I've read the ones that analyzed the election because I'm interested in how that election happened.

I'm not very interested in any of the shit that has taken place since.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )