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Friday, January 6, 2017

Big Excitement Can Come on the Quietest of Days

“We’re going to Northport -- why?” David asked on Thursday morning as we fought our way up the driveway through blinding snow. Visibility was better out on the highway, though, and while it was a quiet day in bookstore and studio/gallery, we got some work done.

First of all, as I’d planned the day before, I set about undecorating the bookstore Christmas tree. Taking down the tree is a task I always find somewhat melancholy, but this time it felt good to be on the indoor side of the big windows, looking out at the street rather than trudging down the sidewalk, head bent against the wind. Once the tree was out the door, there were tables of books to rearrange, which is always fun. I also got my newest decorative acquisition placed prominently on the wall (under the big dog below). All of that felt good, but it’s not what I call “big excitement.”

No, the thrill of the day came with the arrival of friend and customer Sarah Shoemaker, an advance reading copy of her latest novel in hand. It looks great!

Sarah’s story is one that readers of Jane Eyre might have wondered about: How did the mysterious Mr. Rochester grow up, and what made him into the character who later in life employed Jane and won her heart? The answers – at least, as author Shoemaker has so skillfully imagined and presented them – will now be revealed to readers of Edward Rochester! I love the book’s cover design and look forward to receiving my own ARC from the publisher soon, when I will tell you much more about the story. And my bookstore clientele will have the opportunity to purchase signed copies and chat with the author in person in May, right here on Waukazoo Street. We will be scheduling this event around Mothers’ Day. Watch for details!

Yes, that was definitely worth the trip to town. Now, what will today bring?

“In other news,” as they say on the radio, activity on the home front has been mostly cooking, eating, and reading, but I must say the reading has been exciting, even when the books are not new to me. For instance, I’ve been re-reading Benjamin Busch’s memoir, Dust to Dust, and marveling once again at his stunning sentences and perfect paragraphs. The beautiful connections he makes from different eras of his life and different places in the world is every bit as wonderful as Rebecca Solnit's. Both writers pull us into their worlds and show us aspects of our shared world that we have never noticed before.

Our reading circle will meet soon to discuss Gogol’s Dead Souls, so I’m also re-reading that, appreciating as much as as I did the first time around Gogol’s very pointed humor and the way his characters and scenes come alive, thanks to small, telling details. And then, because I’ve been sending monthly Michigan “bestseller” lists to Ron Riekki up in the U.P., I took off the shelf last night the collection he edited back in 2013, The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works

I first looked for Riekki’s name in the table of contents and turned to his poem, “After They Leave.” Wonderful! Then I read two pieces by our friend Ellen Airgood, “Systematic Botany” and “The Wanderer,” admiring yet again Ellen’s sure mastery of voice. Steve Hamilton’s “Watching Us” came next, and after all those high-quality reading experiences I decided I need to re-read the entire collection. Stuart Dybek’s rave on the back is right on the mark:
Open most any page of this book and you’ll smell the piney air and feel even in the sunlight the clean, steely, visceral cold.
Do we need to read about the cold when it’s right outside the door? Of course! It reminds us of who we are, people who live Up North, even if those above the Bridge (Yoopers) call us trollsThe mere act of clearing a way through the blizzard to my bookstore door was exciting this morning! I am open for business!


Sarah Shoemaker said...

It's always so nice to stop in to see Pamela (or Bruce) in Dog Ears; such a warm welcome one gets, and, surrounded by books, how can anyone not feel right at home. Thank heaven for Dog Ears in our village!
Sarah Shoemaker

Dorene said...

Congratulations, Sarah! I can hardly wait to read this book!

Barbara Stark-Nemon said...

Wonderful news about Sarah's book! Can't wait to get my copy!

Mr G said...

Local author, Local bookstore.
It just don't git no better than this!