Here’s a sad story. When the weather allows, I like to take a break from work and visit the Strand’s kiosk in Central Park. While there, I methodically browse through all the books on sale, starting at one end and making my way to the other without skipping a single book. But this isn’t the sad part!
Earlier this week, as I was combing through their bins, I caught myself having a monologue in my head, and I realized I always do this at this location.
In my fantasy, I’m pointing out all of the books I’ve already read to one of the vendors. I never have these thoughts at the Union Square store, or at any other bookstore. I suspect they’re triggered by the relatively small selection of books at this place, many of which I have read. Some sort of OCD kicks in and I begin cataloging my books, dramatized as conversation. Then, like a reverse Walter Mitty, I feel compelled to prove that I have indeed read them, so I say something about each one.
“Dawn Powell’s The Locusts Have No King? Yeah, I loved that one, though my favorite has to be A Time to Be Born. Ah, Martin Amis’s The Informers. Hilarious, but it left me depressed and it took me months to recover. Hmm, Kōbō Abe’s The Face of Another – I read his Woman in the Dunes many years ago. The Kafka influence was too blatant for me to want to try anything else by him.” The clerk never answers, and the scenario doesn’t include a reason why he’s supposed to care.
Incidentally, I also haven’t worked out why anyone would care to read this, yet here we are.