I had a friend who always rode his bike with his pet rat perched on his shoulder. He let me try it too, and we had a great summer biking, losing the rat under the patio and coaxing it back out with some peanut butter, and getting into trouble for nailing our plywood fort to the side of his apartment. We were at that perfect age when the world is still entirely good, before puberty sets in and children mock one another for playing with rats or having the opposite sex as ‘just a friend.’
On the new release list this week are a few tp reprints, including Matterhorn and Ann Beattie’s New Yorker Stories. Also, if you were paying attention last week, you’ve already gotten a dose of Mark Safranko. You know what to do to get more. There’s also the new Patrick Somerville from our friends at Featherproof books – look for a review later this week.
I was confused that this pair were meeting at a train station to go off together when they barely seemed to know each other. What a great tease. Trevor also signals that they are in different social classes. The da Tanka woman tries to repress her “chirpiness” and Trevor remarks that her clothes are expensive. She’s upper middle class or pretending to be. Mileson seems as well worn as year-old newspaper, lower middle. These distinctions break into open class warfare at the end of the story.
I suppose I was lucky. My father owned hundreds of books, many from his own childhood in a log cabin, raised by a former schoolteacher. Lucky insofar as my experience was the ideal breeding ground for a writer—a classic over-sensitive misfit, no good at sports, smartest kid in school—living in an isolated world of national forest, dirt roads, trickling creeks, and unemployed men with guns.
When I was in high school, we used to skip school from time to time and go to Little Five Points in Atlanta where I’d spend an appreciable amount of time in A Cappella Books. After lunch we’d sometimes cross town to go to the two Oxford Books stores – mainly spending the day in Oxford Too – amongst the used lit. A Cappella’s still there, but Oxford’s long gone. Now, when I’m treasure hunting, I’ll go to Harvard Book Store, or New England Mobile Book Fair, or I’ll ride up I91 towards Vermont and stop at the Montague Book Mill, or any of the other half-dozen used book stores up that way – I don’t even know if they all have names.
This is a dramatic collection, the weight of the book alone makes you feel like you’re holding something substantial. I’ve never been a huge SF fan, I love Alien, and Blade Runner, anything about the end of the world, that stuff gets my attention. Jonathan Lethem wrote a really great essay on J.G Ballard recently (here), and it reminded me of Lethem’s roots in the genre, and he made a point that the stories aren’t all flying saucers and alien’s eating human flesh.