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Monday, December 29, 2008

In, Not Off

This is one of my favorite spots along M-22, different every day, beautiful in every season.

I was on the fence last night about whether or not to come to Northport today or to take my customary Monday off, after a festive dinner out at the home of friends, where the Hanukkah candles burned cheerfully for the close of the long holiday, but since we’ll be closed for three months, and since the days remaining are fast diminishing, and since so many people have come home Up North for the holidays, I thought I’d come in for at least a little while, and the decision has worked out well.

First, I zipped up the blinds in the front window to see Jon and Tegan gazing plaintively at the CLOSED sign! I flipped it around to OPEN, and they came right in for a good browse and a couple of Christmas cookies and a book for Jon. Their visit got the day off to a great start.

Next, since the first of the 2009 seed catalogs had arrived in the mail and opened with a brief welcome letter that began “Poet Celia Thaxter’s An Island Garden has been my enduring gardening inspiration,” I hurried to the garden section to see if I had that book. No, it wasn’t there, but Bill McKibben’s Hope, Human and Wild (St. Paul, MN: Hungry Mind Press, 1995) jumped into my hand and held me captive for about an hour. The story of the city of Curitiba in Brazil, a city I’d never before heard of, is mesmerizing, itself an inspiration for urban planners, architects and people around the world who care about making and keeping living environments livable. Just that was worth having come to my own bookstore! I may have put every book on the shelf, but I can be as surprised and delighted as any browsing customer by what I find here, and that’s one of the joys of having a bookstore.

Then our poet friend Al Bona stopped in, and he and I turned to the new issue of the new Dunes Review to compare impressions, both of us very impressed by and admiring of the poem “A Waltz for the Lovelorn,” by Todd Boss. The poem’s rhythm and internal rhymes and word choices are masterful. We turned to read Michael Callaghan’s interview with Boss and found more quotable lines to share, e.g., “A poem should be greased like a dream.” Al was so excited that before leaving he purchased a copy of Yellowrocket, the poet’s first book.

Later: It's been a busy, lively, very enjoyable day, with lots of books sold and many good conversations with friends. I made coffee three times, which is a good measure of foot traffic. In keeping with the holiday losing-track-of-what-day-it-is, this Monday felt like a Saturday.

The plan for the rest of the week is: Tuesday, 10-4; Wednesday (New Year's Eve, 10-???; Thursday (New Year's Day) CLOSED; Friday and Saturday (Jan. 2-3), 10-4. December sale prices will remain in effect through Saturday, Jan. 3, but after that don't count on dropping in again until April. During our winter vacation, I will be working on my -tween novel, aiming to have a complete 21-chapter draft by the end of March, but I'll continue to post to the blog roughly once a week.


dmarks said...

I'd be interested in finding out more about this tween novel. Have you blogged about it before, or are you keeping the details close until it is done (as many authors do)?

I got in a plug for Dog Ears in my latest post in my blog.

P. J. Grath said...

Thanks for plugging, dmarks. I may have mentioned the fiction project in passing but no more than that. It's not a secret, but I've heard many people talk about their projects. One problem is talking instead of getting the writing done. A different problem is that telling what a story is "about" is never as interesting as telling a story. There's a young girl. A grandfather. Dogs. I would have written more by now except that I got bogged down in (as in intimidated by trying to incorporate) modern teen technology. So now my winter goal is just to forge ahead and get a complete first draft. Later perhaps the time period will shift or chapters will move around or drop out or--who knows?

What are you working on? I'm sure you have a project going!

dmarks said...

I have ideas for history books (my editor wants me to come up with some), and I want to get back to work on the novel I've been working on and off on since 1972 or so.

P. J. Grath said...

Does work steal time away from writing? Mary Blocksma gave up her bookstore on Beaver Island so she could write books. She's written, illustrated and published. I feel very fortunate to have this little break coming up.