I just got back from the Indigo store at the Yorkdale Mall and I feel sick.
How is it possible to spend over an hour in a bookstore and not find one book to buy? Good Lord, there is no end of books. Why so few that I’m interested in?
Is it because they don’t stock any authors I like?
Usually they don’t. Or if they do, it had better be on a bestsellers list or won some award. Or fit nicely into some easily digested category such as “Lifestyle”.
Is it because it’s more of a fashion boutique than a bookstore?
A little bit, yes. Well, a lot, yes.
The merchandise seems to be as important as the books judging by the prominent places reserved for displaying soap, candles, bags, novelty items etc.
I’ll admit it bothered me no small amount that I had to line up behind someone screaming at the cashier about returning a pair of socks. In a bookstore?
Is it the calibre of writing these days?
Unfortunately, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to.
Walking down the maze of aisles and shelves, I began to get into a fugue state. It was a bit like when your mother took you to a department store as a small child and told you to wait in a chair while she checked out the ladies department.
I was briefly lifted out of this delirium by a bright little yellow paperback with the word “lemon” in it’s title. I thought it was absurd and forgot about it till I got home.
I had actually brought a list of new books and writers that I’d make note of from radio interviews and CBC podcasts, notably Writers and Company and The Next Chapter. Indigo stocked none of these.
In the end, I picked up a mystery novel by a writer I knew and trusted.
The cashier asked if I had “Plum Rewards Card”. More fruit.
But when I got home, the “lemon” thing came back to mind. For the heck of it, I searched Amazon for books with “lemon” in their titles.
The result was 496 book titles in fiction and literature alone.
Some of my favourite titles include:
1. Vampires in the Lemon Grove (by Karen Russell)
2. The Sour Lemon Score: A Parker Novel ( by Richard Stark)
This was published in 1969 and would now feature a cell phone as well as, or instead of, a handgun. As the gun was indispensible to American TV shows (still is), the cell phone is now de rigueur.
And I really like this one:
3. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel (by Aimee Bender)
– the blurb says: “On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake.”
4. Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (by Joanne Fluke)
– I can see a whole series happening here along the lines of the “Rabbi who..”and “the Cat who…”
Now, I wrote this before checking it out, thinking the fruit “series” idea was too nuts, but, lo and behold, Ms Fluke has already done it:
– Apple Turnover Murder,
– Red Velvet Cupcake Murder,
– Strawberry Shortcake Murder
– Peach Cobbler Murder
– Cream Puff Murder (where’s the fruit, Joanne?)
– Gingerbread Cookie Murder (ginger is a rhizome, not a fruit – Joanne is breaking her training now)
– Cherry Cheescake Murder
– Key Lime Pie Murder
– Plum Pudding Murder
– Carrot Cake Murder
There’s more, (14 of them, I think) and that’s more than enough. Interestingly, these mysteries are written by someone who also writes cook books and you’d think she would know better than to serve up endlessly repetitious themes to her customers.
Perhaps a palate freshener would be the curiously titled “Fruit: A novel about a boy and his nipples” by Brian Francis
(actually, I’m told this is really a pretty good book)
Let’s make one big book and get it done with.
Something with “vampire/coming- of-age/murderous childhood/set in Italy/fruit name/colour name/survivor…” kind of book.
Indeed, this sort of thing was done by Alan Coren in his 1976 collection of comic essays: Golfing for Cats.
A little something for everyone.
But not at the Indigo. I checked.
I would have been better off if I was in the market for socks. Or body lotion. I mean, a bookstore is where you go to buy that stuff, isn’t it?
Maybe I need something like “Chicken Soup for the Jaded Reader” – like a hole in the head, I do.
1. August Day Song – Bebel Gilberto
2. Girl Talk – Ben Sidran
3. The Nights are Cold – Richard Hawley
4. Treasure Island – Bob James