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Friday, December 2, 2016

December -- Can It Really Be?


Sun gave way to rain, with temperatures still mild enough that, except for bare trees, a wakening Rip Van Winkle might guess the month to be October rather than December. We rub our eyes and blink in confusion. But there is the big lighted tree at the T-intersection of Waukazoo and Nagonaba, and we remember Saturday’s holiday festivities throughout the village.

Her busy days a blur, one family member says. My mind blurs, too. In the background, on the radio, I seem to hear the Red Queen shouting, “Off with her head!”


Yes, yes, I’m reading. Of course. Ordering books, selling books, discovering books, loving books. That, after all, is a bookseller’s life.

Other aspects of life, however, such as the greater public scene, cannot always be held at bay, and I think of Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, saying to her father, “And they must marry! Yet he is such a man!”

Interludes of stimulating conversation make up parts of most days, as friends and customers (customer-friends) and I share coping strategies and positive actions we can take in a difficult political climate. (Thank you for your presence!)

Interludes. Reading. Sleep. Then the drumbeat again, pounding, pounding, pounding:

“He is such a man!”
“Off with her head!”
He is such a man!”
“Off with her head!”

Hard to ignore, and yet paying attention only fuels anger and frustration, so I pick up another book or a pencil or a pen – to read, to write, to draw.

You see, I had an entirely different post to write, but it went out the window, and the wind blew it away. Strange winds blow these days, but standing firm is a challenge I fear will only grow greater with time. Is it possible we may look back at these “difficult” times soon with something like nostalgia? Or will they possibly give way to calmer, more reasonable days. Which is more likely?

On Thursday afternoon for a while I fell into The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth’s sweet-cented Manuscript should close!
       The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

Roses! Those I brought into the house in mid-November are nearing their final days, but they have given me a long run, and the petals are still fragrant. They will not be dust for years to come. Remember.



What do I "mean"? You tell me.




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We Needed a Little – and Got a Lot


Rising to the occasion, Northport put on a great party for the Saturday following Thanksgiving. A little snow would have been pretty, but we were all just thankful not to have rain. The village was decorated, stores open with treats and surprises, and this year the townsfolk turned out. Hugs, laughter, and conversation were accompanied in my place of business by the all-important book purchases, that critical element that decides whether or not a bookstore can keep its doors open. Then, starting at 4 o’clock, clip-clopping hooves on pavement told me that the horses had indeed arrived. As the line for free rides in the decorated wagon grew and grew, I was proud to remember the first year it was my idea to bring horses to town and give free rides. I’m happy it has become such a popular Northport holiday feature. Sorry I did not manage to get any decent pictures of the horses....




Carolers in Victorian garb strolled through town, spreading cheer, while band and choir assembled under the roof behind the big tree, and the darkness felt friendly, filled with happy crowds. A lighted magic wand appeared, waving up and down, back and forth, and then – all four thousand lights blazed forth! It was the absolutely best-ever tree-lighting our little town has ever seen, greeted by spontaneous applause and oohs and ahs.



Sometimes it’s hard psychologically, ahead of time, to gear up to rise to an occasion, but happy occasions more than make up for the effort required. They give us back our appreciation for and joy in one another. Thanksgiving at our house was like that, and Saturday in the village was like that, as was a Monday night dinner at home with old friends. We needed it. We needed a little Thanksgiving, we needed a little Christmas, and we needed time to relax with old friends.



Monday brought rain. Now on Tuesday the welcome sun has returned, giving us a bonus of light for our spirits and another chance to do the last of fall’s outdoor work before winter is upon us. Snow in the forecast for Friday! Everybody up and at ‘em!







Friday, November 25, 2016

More Treasure Stories Coming In




I’m still getting e-mails from customer friends about treasures they discovered in my bookshop. Sometimes I remember the book or books purchased but not always; often I’ve forgotten something that still glows in my customer’s memory and holds a cherished place in that friend’s home library. Here are some more stories of treasures found:

Susan A.:

Just LOVE Frank and Lucky Get Schooled! We leave it in our guest room so everyone who visits ends up loving it, too. A boy and his dog, and what the dog teaches him. How much better can you get than that? And with the always honest-as-an-apple illustrations by Lynn Rae Perkins, who is double-blessed with word and image genius.

Deb W.

Possibly the coolest and spookiest discovery I ever made at Dog Ears Books was a used copy of a book I had as a kid called McCall's Giant Golden Make-It Book of Crafts and Activities.  It was published in 1953.  I took one look at it merchandised atop a shelf of children's books and my whole childhood flashed before my eyes! 

I think I made every project in that book.  I'd lost track of my original copy but it was probably in tatters anyhow.  So the Dog Ears copy was certainly meant for me.  Thanks for the memories and thanks for the fun

Tom W.

I, too, have a number of great books that I discovered in your shop.  My discovery of the Joseph Heywood mysteries was at Dog Ears. Snowfly is so far the absolute best of his books.

Then there was the chance to meet Louisa Lang Owen, Eric's mother, and read her amazing story of her childhood as a casualty of war.  I will never forget her charming personality.

There are many more books, such as John Mitchell's Grand Traverse the Civil War Era, and other histories that I have found at Dog Ears.  

How lucky we are in Northport to have access to so many new and used books. Not many small towns have this luxury.  Happy Holidays.


Alan M.

I can’t remember if it was my first or second visit to Dog Ears a few years ago after my wife and I took possession or our cottage north of Northport.  I gravitated to the philosophy and religion section.  I’m a college professor and lately have been reading a lot and writing a bit about comparative religious philosophy.  I found there a small, truly exotic text for any bookstore, let alone, I thought, one in Northport, Michigan, at the tip of the Leelanau peninsula.  The book is Traditions of the Seven Rsis by an English Scholar, John E. Mitchiner, and published by the eminent Indian publishing house Motilal Banarsidas. 

That text opened at least three worlds, at which I still marvel.  The first is the world that is the subject of the book, the world of the classical Vedic era in ancient India. The seven Rsis play a central role in the mythology of that period and the continuing cosmology of Hinduism.  They are regarded as “mind-born” sons of Brahma, third in the triumvirate of Siva, Vishnu, and Brahma, the creator God.  They aid Brahma in the creation of the manifest world, are progenitors of races of men on earth, and are the source of the knowledge of the Vedas, the foundational scripture of Hinduism.  They, or at least some, are thought to reappear regularly as needed in the cycles of time to keep alive the knowledge of the nature of the inner-most Self and all of creation as nothing but the play of a primordial field of pure consciousness.

The book is based on Mitchiner’s dissertation and is a painstakingly thorough account of everything ever written about the Rishis in the dozens of diverse texts that make up the tradition.  Because of the central role of the rishis in the founding stories of Hinduism, Mitchiner’s account immerses the reader deeply into the very complex and colorful fabric of Hindu mythological history.    

But Mitchiner’s own story is yet a second fascinating world that may no longer exist.  After being awarded his PhD from London University, Mitchiner spent a couple of years continuing the research that led to the book.  After that, though, he spent a career in Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service as an Ambassador.  This is the world of aristocratic England where a scholar could become a valued member of the diplomatic service and a university education in the humanities was held in esteem as cultivating a sophisticated outlook and manners, a view in very short supply in our world now dominated by STEM studies and narrow careerism.
                                                                                      
The third world is the world of Northport.  Who in the world owned this exotic text and brought it to Dog Ears for Pam to buy and put on her shelf?  I imagine another college professor, retired moving to the Northport area, maybe downsizing a bit to a cottage, maybe with a spouse who always thought the library was a bit cluttered in any event.  I hope that person thinks of this book from time to time and smiles, happy to have read it, maybe a little sad that it’s gone.  I can assure him or her that it was adopted into a good family and I’m grateful for the worlds it opened.   

---

Now I just have to get the Christmas tree in the stand and upright! Remember, big doings in the village tomorrow (Saturday), including -- what more could you ask? -- horses!

Had intended to close with a photo of tree lying on bookstore floor, but my camera battery pooped out (hence the recycled image at the top of this post), and the charger is at home. Maybe tomorrow, tree standing up? Stop by in person and see!

P.S. Got it up! Squeezed another shot out of camera battery! Stop by, anyway!



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Holiday Fun -- AND Treasures!


My original subject heading today was going to be “No Big Plan – Just Good Books.” On Saturday, however, I had a visit from a representative from the Chamber of Commerce, and plans for the holiday weekend in Northport have taken promising shape. There will be band music, caroling, evening lighting of the village Christmas tree (with 4,000 lights this year), many other events and attractions, but my favorite, from 4 to 7 p.m., will be the decorated horse-drawn wagon giving free rides through the village. And the horses this year will be black Belgians! So my new plan is to keep the bookstore open until 7 p.m. on Saturday rather than closing at 5. Weather, as always, permitting, so cross your fingers!

Schedule for Saturday, Nov. 26, in Northport
Meanwhile, I posted on Facebook and asked a few people on e-mail what was the most memorable book they had ever found at Dog Ears, whether they bought new or used books, ordered new books not in stock, asked for suggestions, etc.., and here are some of the answers I received.

Marilyn:

My favorite purchase of all time took place at Dog Ears when I discovered that you had a (used, of course) copy of a now out-of-print childhood favorite book on your shelf. Flying Skis is now in my granddaughter's possession.

Another favorite book I purchased from you was one you thought I would appreciate after you read the early reviews. Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being remains one of my favorites and I might have missed it if not for your kind suggestion.


Deborah:

Hard to select a favorite. My most recent favorite is Even in Darkness, which I purchased new having read your review. Another book I purchased after eagerly awaiting its arrival was Long Arc of the Universe by Kathleen Stocking, another new book.


Trudy:

You helped me find a book for my husband George--a Mosley book he really liked! I felt proud to bring my young granddaughter to your store. She and I both love to read, and you order the books she likes best.


Sarah:

What I have found at Dog Ears is a warm welcome, an open mind and heart, good and wise advice on books and life in general. I love the author visits, the chance to sit and listen to an author read, and to ask questions and buy the books and get them signed. I love that there are so many books at Dog Ears that have a local connection.


Steve:

I loved delving into a series of books called Introducing. The Guardian said that Introducing is a miracle of modern publishing. For me it really is. The series covers topics from Ethics and Psychology to Chaos and Quantum Theory and Semiotics and Joyce and much more. Lots of graphics to liven them up and help explain.

Being new books, Pamela promptly placed my order and they soon arrived. The experience is much better than online. A visit to the bookstore can evolve into a wonderful conversation. I have more than twenty of these Introducing books on my bookshelf, close at hand.

Books are important to me. I am in two reading circles.


Barbara:

Giving Thanks and reasons to head for Dog Ears Books on Buy Local Saturday:

I’d still have to say the most impactful book I’ve gotten at my favorite book store, Dog Ears Books, is Donald Lystra’s Season of Water and Ice. Not only was the book itself absolutely captivating and beautifully written, but Pamela Grath’s recommendation that I read it led to a turning point in my pathway to authorship, and was a perfect example of why she is a talented bookseller. She knew I’d become a novelist after a long career doing something else, and she knew I loved northern Michigan, and split my time between Northport and Ann Arbor. She also knew Don Lystra had a similar trajectory and that I would appreciate his work. His successful example and beautiful book inspired me to move forward, and Pamela was the catalyst.
It’s hard for me to choose among my favorite activities at Dog Ears (and I decline to leave Sarah out of the equation!!!) a. choosing a section of the store to browse that I haven’t seen in a while, b. the front table- the new and often local books to peruse c. chatting with Pamela (and YES! Petting Sarah!). I must say, however, that my favorite day at Dog Ears, aside from my own author events, was the day I got to be a bookseller for a couple of hours!  Hunting for a military mystery for a customer, helping a little girl pick out that best one book, handing off a book club’s books to a regular customer, and being grateful – again – for Dog Ears and Pamela Grath.
Wish I could be there Saturday … will be up for about 5 days the first week of December….


Susan L.:

1.  Over the years, I've purchased many treasured books, from Modern Library editions to The Legend of Sleeping Bear, books both new and used.

2.   I've asked for help, and have also found things by chance.

3.   Books have been ordered on my behalf with never a problem. They also have been sent in many different directions. They've always arrived at their destination.

4.  Yes, Sarita! I love the peace, comfort, and organized environment. The selection and the encouragement to dabble in different reading materials.

5.  Books revive me. Books open my mind to different points-of-view. Books are filled with fascination. Book discussions bring people together. Books fill every nook and cranny of our abodes. Books are in the rack opposite the toilet so not a minute is wasted. Books are amusing to Finnie and Bianca [her cats], particularly Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Books are vital, as are bookshops.


Carson:

The best? The most memorable? My most favorite? After 20 years of shopping at Dog Ears Books in Northport, Michigan, I have to say it's a little treasure I spotted high up on a shelf called "Love Letters." It was a small paperback with an old-fashioned drawing on the cover, and for some reason it caught my eye. It was too high to reach, and I didn't want to disturb the lovely bookstore owner, so I resisted my first impulse. As I knocked around the gallery and bookstore, it kept drawing me back. Finally I asked Pamela about it, just asked, and while my back was turned, she grabbed a ladder, climbed up there, and brought me that book. I didn't know if it was fiction or nonfiction, old or new. Inside the charming front cover the frontispiece said, "The Etiquette of Introduction, Courtship, and Proposals; Also a Large Number of New and Original Letters to be Used as Models for any Style of Love Letter." It was just as advertised: Love Letters. So many different ways to say I love you; I want to make you my own; and also, stop asking, already! Published in 1914, it seems more than many lifetimes old, with sentiments so delicately expressed they would be unintelligible to today's young men and women. I couldn't determine if it was old or new; there are no indications of a reprint. The volume is high quality and so perfectly preserved it seems new, yet it's hard to imagine a publisher reissuing this. Writers of love letters are not even a niche market!



Debby:

If not for Dog Ears Books, I would never have discovered MIchigan author D.M. Greenwald and his series of books (Frozen Moon; Cody; and The Wichita Mountain Manhunt) about a man and his search-and-rescue dogs.

One of my other favorite meet-the-author/book signing experiences was with Ellen Airgood at Dog Ears, with her then-new novel South of Superior, which is a wonderful read.

For keeping up with regional authors - as well as many other discoveries - Dog Ears is the place to go.

--- 

Of course, one smart-aleck (Kirk, you know who you are) accused me of running a bait-and-switch operation, in that I sell only books and not dog toys and treats. Well, thanks, anyhow, Kirk, for being a good regular customer and buying new books as well as selections from the "just a bunch of old books" you wrote to say is all I have. (Why is it, with all you quick-witted, zany guys I always feel like George Allen playing straight man to Gracie?)


Gratitude

And no, I am not ignoring or skipping over Thanksgiving! I am deeply, deeply thankful for a loving, supportive marriage; physical and emotional shelter from the storms and vicissitudes of life; dear, dear family members and friends; a planet with heavenly touches like dogs (especially Sarah!) and horses; and my work of nearly a quarter-century in a life of books, where fellow booksellers are colleagues and customers are friends. 

Thank you all for being part of my world!

Beginning of winter project: organizing photographs!




Friday, November 18, 2016

"I Forget Just Why"



Literature is the memory of humanity. Anyone who writes remembers, and anyone who reads takes part in those experiences. 
 Books can be reprinted. The fact is, there are archival copies of books. 
 Not of people. 
 -      Hans Keilson, in the Afterword to a 1984 reprint edition of his autobiographical novel, Life Goes On

Leben geht weiter (Life Goes On) was published in Germany in 1933 by S. Fischer Verlag and was the last debut by a Jewish writer from that publisher before the German government banned the book in 1934.

An autobiographical novel, Life Goes On is not an account of large political movements or dramatic military events but a portrait of one ordinary family’s life between the two World Wars. Herr Seldersen, proprietor of a modest clothing store, lives above the shop with his wife and son, Albrecht. (An older daughter has finished school and works in Berlin.) He is a decorated veteran of the First World War who came home from the war alive and made his living as a traveling salesman until he saved enough to open his own store. Now in his fifties, as the story opens, he wants nothing more than to continue working for a few more years before retirement.



But Germany’s economic climate between the wars was disastrous. First hyper-inflation, then government deflationary policies, on top of war losses, reparations debts, and a world-wide Great Depression sent unemployment skyrocketing. Early in the novel, a factory on the edge of town burns to the ground.
That night, around two hundred workers lost their jobs and would stay unemployed for a long time. The owner took the insurance money and moved on. People said that the fire had not come at an inconvenient time for him; he was going to have to cut back the size of his business in the foreseeable future anyway, it wasn’t making enough of a profit.
The merchant realizes the workers who have lost their jobs will not be the only ones to suffer. No one will remain untouched.
...Nothing that ever happened had consequences limited to the event itself—everything was linked by fate, one way or another, and in the end no one could escape their share of responsibility for the whole.

We see events in the town through the eyes of both the father and the son. As customers grow fewer and fewer, with more of them buying on credit and unable to make payments, the Seldersens try to keep their financial worries from the boy as long as possible. He, the son, goes to Berlin to study at the university largely because there is nothing else for him to do, but once there he must make money to cover his expenses and to send home to his parents. He becomes a musician for hire and, of necessity, neglects his studies.

The story’s proceeds at an agonizing pace. As Selderson becomes ever more desperate to make ends meet, each day brings new trials and burdens. He buys stock on credit, borrows money to pay his bills, and is crushed by a combination of interest payments and absence of paying customers until, in the end, unable to avoid bankruptcy, he is snatched back from the cliff-edge of suicide by his wife. At last they move to Berlin to live with their son, having lost everything.

Here is the Translator’s Note that follows the main text:
Shortly before Hans Keilson’s death in 2011, I corresponded with him about the end of the novel. The last scene seems strangely like a Nazi rally, but surely he intended it to be a Communist march or other left-wing demonstration? He told me that the publisher (in 1933) had made him change the ending of the book, hoping to avoid political difficulties. Originally, Albrecht and his father had explicitly raised their fists in the Communist salute, not their hands in a Nazi salute. In the published version, it was left ambiguous.
(The hope of avoiding political difficulties was dashed when the book was banned in the year following its publication.)



Another story line concerns Albrecht’s close friend, Fritz Fiedler. The Fiedler family were working-class, and Fritz would have been content to continue in that tradition, but there is no work for him. He is prepared to venture out in the larger world and take his chances, but even far from home, whatever work he manages to find is only temporary. His last hope, emigration to America, proves a dead end: the Americans have their own unemployment and have nothing to offer a would-be immigrant, who returns home with no hope of a future. Fritz’s suicide is a turning point in the way Albrecht sees his own place in the world.

Keilson himself emigrated to the Netherlands following the banning of his novel, and his daughter was born there while he was in hiding from the Nazis. He completed the work for his Ph.D. in medicine 45 years after beginning his studies in Berlin (told then that, as a Jew, he would not be permitted to practice medicine) and pursued a career in child psychology, publishing a monograph on “Sequential Traumatization in Children,” based on his work with Jewish war orphans. “My work as a psychoanalyst,” he said once, “is more important than my writing.” He did, however, write a second autobiographical novel, published in 1959, and also many poems.

Keilson’s parents, the merchant couple in Life Goes On, also emigrated to the Netherlands, but they were arrested and died in Auschwitz. At the age of 100, he still felt guilt over not having been able to save his parents' lives.

Recently my sister woke up with poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay in her head. The last lines (see complete text here) are 


Life must go on;
I forget just why.

Though his best friend killed himself, he was forced out of the country he considered his homeland, and his parents were murdered, Hans Keilson’s life went on. Why? Perhaps so he could help the orphans in Amsterdam, so that he might have two daughters and three grandchildren, and preserve memory for all of us, through his contributions to literature, of a world we never want to see again.



Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thomas Wolfe Fatigue




My rule for including a book on my “Books Read” list for any given year is that I have to read the whole thing. If it’s on my list, I read it from beginning to end. That doesn’t mean I read every book I pick up from beginning to end, but it does mean I try not to waste much time on books that aren’t worth reading in their entirety.

Earning that listing right (my own rule) might seem like enough reason for me to plow ahead with Of Time and the River, though at page 511 of the 912-page book I was beginning to long for the end. But I like to have at least one additional reason, because otherwise I begin to have doubts, coming because I remember a why-we-are-in-Vietnam argument that went, “We have to stay and keep fighting because it’s already cost us so much.” My Thomas Wolfe reading correlative might be, “I’ve spent so much time on the book that I have to [double my investment to] reach the end.” Not a great comparison, since it’s only time, not lives, at stake, and only my own time, and the end of the book is in sight, whereas, for year after year, no one could not say that about the war. But I do think I need more reason to keep reading a book than having already read a lot of it.

So what’s my supplementary reason for battling on through Thomas Wolfe fatigue? Maybe I should first say something about what’s brought on the fatigue, and I’ll introduce it with a question: How does Thomas Wolfe portray character?

The main character in Of Time and the River, Eugene Gant (from Look Homeward, Angel), is so intensely autobiographical it’s embarrassing. Wolfe spares us none of young Gant’s overwrought emotions, and we are privy not only to every sensation but also to every judgment that Gant makes about other characters, almost as if in reading the book we have the experience of inhabiting his mind and body. Other characters are portrayed very differently, which makes sense, since the story is told from Gene’s point of view, albeit in the third person. Of course Wolfe/Gant, with access to Eugene’s insides, could only know other characters from the outside – from their appearances, speech, and behavior. I get that.

But the extreme lack of sympathy shown for other characters, especially those with different ethnic backgrounds – is it only the characters, or is it also the author’s, or was it the way the author felt when younger but got over as he matured? Negroes (frequently referred to with the more vulgar N-term) and Jews, Greeks to a lesser extent, are “oily” and “primitive,” with features of face and hair and body exaggerated and dwelt on at great length. Women, of any age, are generally either seductive or repulsive – sometimes, paradoxically, both! Is it only Gant, or was it Wolfe, too, who looked on other human beings not only as separate from himself but almost as members of another species? All others in this book, it seems, are Others, examined and described with the glittering, objective, curious but at the same time repelled eye of a boy collecting insects and pinning them, still wriggling, to his collecting board. This would be off--putting at any time, but at the end of an election cycle marked by statements of prejudice, hatred, and fear, it's downright sickening.

Sickening. Tiresome. Sad. Maddening. You just want to slap the egocentric, self-dramatizing young genius (already a legend in his own mind) upside the head and remind him that he, too, is a human being, seen from the outside by other people! How about putting that gigantic imagination to work to try to understand other people’s situations? That’s what I mean by Thomas Wolfe fatigue.

So you’re probably wondering, why go on at all? What on earth can justify my spending more time in Wolfe’s world?

“I love the language,” a friend of mine frequently says of a book she’s just read. And while there’s plenty of Wolfe’s language I don’t love, there are other passages, long and lyrical, which absolutely soar. Overwritten, maybe, from the postmodern point of view (certainly often emotionally overwrought), but when he leaves characters behind and pens hymns to land and trees, to rivers, to cities and towns, to trains and night, to time – all manner of general experiential topics having nothing to do with individuals or plot – then I want nothing more than for a friend to interrupt my reading just long enough for me to say, “Wait! Listen to this!” And then I’d begin to read aloud.
The river is a tide of moving waters: by night it floods the pockets of the earth. By night it drinks strange time, dark time. By night the river drinks proud potent tides of strange dark time. By night the river drains the tides, proud potent tides of time’s dark waters that, with champ and lift of teeth, with lapse and reluctation of their breath, fill with a kissing glut the pockets of the earth. Sired by the horses of the sea, maned with the dark, they come. 
 They come! Ships call! The hooves of night, the horses of the sea, come on below their manes of darkness. And forever the river runs. Deep as the tides of time and memory, deep as the tides of sleep, the river runs.
In these passages, repetition of words and phrases, so very annoying (and at times disgusting) when a character is described over and over with the same objectifying words and phrase -- these descriptive passages not involving other human beings are poetry, song. Wolfe can go on for pages like this, and when he does I feel the wind in my hair as the horses of the sea carry me across the water, and I ride through the night in the train, peering through the window at passing scenes. Oh, then Thomas Wolfe is glorious!

So there you have it. In the early pages of the book, I was thinking of recommending the novel to others in our Ulysses Reading Circle. I have abandoned that thought. I will, however, finish my own reading Of Time and the River, and I believe it will have been time well spent.

On the other hand, will I re-read it someday or pick up another novel by Thomas Wolfe? Not likely. By the time I get to the last page of this one, I will have been well immunized. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Morning After


Whoa! Night came on early!


While I have no plans either to flee my country or to give in to despair, last night was long and hard, and this morning was no easier. My heart is too full today to post much, if anything, in the way of original thought. I do have one small idea that feels positive and citizenship- and life-affirming to me, and I am trying it out on a few friends, one at a time, to see if there might be the energy and willingness to get it together, but that is a tender, fledgling thought, too tentative to put out into the sometimes harsh light of the Internet. Maybe sometime in the future, but not now.

Instead I will quote (assuming their kind permission) from today’s “Shelf Awareness” newsletter, since the words there give voice to the booklover (and bookseller) aspect of my feelings today, here in my little northern Michigan bookshop:

Many of us here at Shelf Awareness are in shock at the election results, in part because polls and predictions were so far off. We're also wary of the rhetoric of the winning campaign, which too often has been inflammatory and not exactly fact-based. 
Much of the book world supported the losing side. And while it's difficult to take in the results of the election, it's important to remember that in the turbulent days and years ahead, books will remain a key part of public discourse and provide so much of the information that is part of--or should be part of--discussions of the issues and constitute the basis of momentous decisions and laws. Books are also a great source of perspective, understanding, solace and, when needed, escape.

Perspective and understanding, please note, not only solace and escape. It is very important that we Americans find our way forward from here as a nation, helping each other to create a path characterized by kindness and grace. Let us find the books to help us do that, shall we?

Tuesday evening orchard and sunset