The Birdcage Archives

Wednesday 23 November 2011

The Short Story Review No. VIII Introduction

Hello Gentle Reader

It is that time of month again. The time of the month when six stories, by six different authors makes it into “The Short Story Review,” but of course first and foremost there is the matter of an introduction. November is usually – much like all the other months; to be quiet in the literary world. Not much happens. Not much has happened, in the award arena. There are few new novels, here and there, that may strike a chord of interest in some readers. Working at a bookstore now, it’s surprising how many people actually read – hip, hip hooray for them one would say; but it is all trash to me. I cannot even begin to grasp what it is, what it could possibly mean to men, this trash. Other than some hormonal teenager, wants to know when the new book in a series comes out (“Clock Work Prince,” I believe she said it was called) or some old woman looking for the new romance book by some author or another. Then there is of course, nothing out of the new in every other part of the bookstore world. People looking at this or that. Though there does come some odd little moments, when someone makes you smile, when they ask: “where is “The Divine Comedy,” by Dante [they cannot pronounce his last name],” but you smile and show him where to go; then it is there you ask if they are looking for anything else? Of course they are not. They are simply, now going to browse. They thank you for their service. Then they happily move on, while you are left in that state of purgatory, wandering about doing nothing else. A customer shows up and you say “Hi there! How are you doing?” to which case they say fine thank-you, and when you are going to ask if they need any help, they blurt back as if on autopilot do you need any help, to which case they are not all that interested, at all in your help to find a book. When all you crave is some interesting talk about some great literature. Though of course, they don’t care. You as seen trash. A servant. A butler or a maid. Something that should be standing or lurking in the shadows of the store, only to come out when you are needed – by that when they find you, and ask for your assistance. Though they’ll ask for your assistance in the most abrupt and curtest of manners.

Though through, my eyes – these eyes behind these transparent lenses, that at times show the reflection of my eye, or the shadowing legs of my spider eyelashes. All I can see, is I am now forced to really, walk around with it, is the ninety-five percent of the reading population. The people who read laundry lint – fluff if you will. Who could care how less the predictable plot is, or how interesting it is. How it’s a formula that is followed, time after time. One can write, a romance novel, in a matter of six months. Nora Roberts, has over a hundred books, as does Danielle Steele (who does not think her work falls into the romance condition, but discusses the human condition – a laughable thought really) it would come to no surprise though that they might be using the same formula.

Now of course with my job, I have to do a “Staff Pick,” – a book that you think you can sell! Even though it’s a book store, you certainly do need to realize that it is also a retail place, a place, after your purse and wallet. Open them up and hand over all your money for the exchange of the product. Hand it all over for the fluff that you wish to read. Those that walk the floor are no different. They are the imps – the flying monkey’s that swarm you, try to sell you stuff. It is no wonder that customers get so irritated, when one (such as myself) just wishes to have a conversation (or is that a ploy to, to sell you something) just wish to ask how you are doing. Of course the staff picks needs to be in the store itself. There goes the hopes of having “The Land of Green Plums,” by Herta Müller, Nobel Laureate in Literature of two thousand and nine. Then of course their concept of what about “Palace Walk,” by the Egyptian author and Nobel Laureate in Literature of nineteen-eighty eight, Naguib Mahfouz. Certainly they must have it in store. Though once again, they do not have it – but they have the second volume in his “Cairo Trilogy,” “Sugar Street,” not that does me much good of anything at all. Then someone suggested try picking something that everyone would like to read. Something like James Patterson, or John Grisham, what about Clive Cussler? At what cost though I ask myself – most likely the cost of my dignity.

At least here, though Gentle Reader, literature is still held in its high concept. At least here it is hoped and enjoyed – where it is something more than just simple fluff of a story.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and Wrong.*

M. Mary

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