At Barnes & Noble the other day, I felt drugged. I rushed around the New Books shelves in search of several titles I’d copied from the internet into my Apica notebook. At the top was Erin Morganstern’s The Night Circus, a well-reviewed literary fantasy said to have elements of magic realism and a plot centered on dueling magicians: common elements in fantasy since Harry Potter and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. But I make a beeline for anything pegged as magic realism.
It wasn’t displayed with the new fiction or the new science fiction. I wondered why.
The other new books on my list weren’t displayed on the front tables, either, though I was less surprised about these two: Martha Southgate’s The Taste of Salt, a novel about an African-American family’s struggles with addiction, and Brian Moore’s The Mangan Inheritance, reissued by NYBR, a novel about a poet’s return to his Irish roots after his actress wife leaves him.
I guess nobody’s worried about moving books.
I went deeper and deeper into the bookshelves, and, yes, found several copies of Southgate’s book and one copy of Morganstern’s. And that is very good.
But it’s disappointing that everything is higgledy-piggledy and don’t-give-a-damn now that Borders has closed. There is no longer competition, and bookselling is suffering in our small city. You can see and feel the difference in the displays. It seems VERY strange that the two heavily promoted new books weren’t prominently displayed. B&N no longer has to sell anything except Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.
And, by the way, the indie bookstore in my neighborhood carried none of the above.
I sank down in a cozy chair with a big cup of coffee, feeling suddenly dizzy. It couldn’t be the poor bookselling. Was it the allergy pill? Honestly, I rarely take those, but I’ve been sniffling and coughing a lot, so I’d forced myself to take one that morning. Actually it turned out it was a sleeping pill. I don’t take sleeping pills; it was somebody else’s sleeping pill, the sleeping pill of a visitor. A bottle of sleeping pills identical to the bottle of my prescription allergy pills on the shelf: I shook it out, didn’t look at it, and swallowed.
I didn’t actually fall asleep, so I can’t imagine what it’s for, but it didn’t help my allergies, either.
I promise you I don’t take drugs!
I drank two cups of coffee before I bicycled home.