How can a spanking clean space with bright lights still seem drab? It can and it does. But first, let me tell you the backstory.
We traveled this past weekend to a small city where the Balloon People live. Do not confuse the Balloon People with the Balloon Heads, an entirely different animal.
Balloon Heads just have an over-inflated view of themselves, their children, their accomplishments, their houses and their importance to everyone else. Everyone knows one of these, even if they are themselves Balloon Heads but seem not to realize it.
No. The Balloon people have big everything. They are tall and wide. They have to wear doublewide jeans. They can’t find dresses or shirts except in the big and tall shops, of which there is one, count it, one in this place. Books R Us is in a shopping mall that is basically 750-square feet of not much and plenty of empty former stores.
Our first stop was at the food court where one of the stands serves Italian food. We asked for a slice of Sicilian, unheated, please.
On the plate came a wedge of thick pizza-like substance. A wedge of Sicilian? Sicilian pizza is supposed to be rectangular and thick. It was thick. But it was from a round pie. This is a heretofore undiscovered sin. Not a big one. But a sin all the same.
You can’t properly browse in a bookstore on an empty stomach. Okay. Mission accomplished as some president would say. Off to Books R Us.
Bright shiny place, but drab. Not dog-eared drab but still.
Thousands of books. Low prices. Few customers. The cashier at her podium might have been reading. A good sign. Bookstore workers should like to read, especially when no one’s buying anything. Bad eyesight and distance prevented detecting whether her eyes were open. And it was impolite to stare long enough to see if she would turn a page.
First shelf: New York Times Best Sellers. (Should that be one word, not two?) Best sellers from what year, though? Certainly not this one.
Novels, romance novels, young reader novels, sci-fi, biographies of people you’ve never heard of. Travel, adventure, and -- yes! -- even reference. But not a dictionary or encyclopedia among the choices. The closest they came to a real reference books was “Chasing Hillary” by NYTimes reporter Amy Chozick. We’ve read the book. It’s good. It’s funny. It is not a reference book.
Psychology, self-help, and diet books. Diet books? In the City of the Balloon People?
Bottom line: zillions of books, no one looking, no one buying.
People keep saying Wessays (™) should be in book form. For what? To be placed in the brightly lighted book museum in a shopping mall?
Books are where ideas with the hope and promise of immortality go to die.
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I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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