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March 2011
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May 2011

Snubbed at the Indie Bookstore

My preteen son and I ventured into New York during spring break to ride the Staten Island Ferry and visit a couple of favorite bookstores. He loves Kinokuniya, the big, ultra-busy Japanese store across Sixth Avenue from Bryant Park. He chose a cool pen and some art supplies from the many cool pens and art supplies on the lowest level, and later used the pen to impress a seven-year-old girl on the train ride home. "You write cursive!" she exclaimed.

I wanted to visit a small shop I knew of only through social media; the store and I may even have exchanged tweets. Along with many others, I have promoted buying books at independent bookstores, and I'd been curious about this one since it opened. It's a well-lit, appealing spot with what looks like carefully selected inventory.

We were the only customers at the time of our visit. A bookseller behind the counter glanced up from the computer as we entered and we exchanged hellos.

"I follow y'all on Twitter," I said excitedly.

"Oh," said the bookseller.

Silence followed.

After a few seconds, I understood that our conversation was over. 

Feeling vaguely embarrassed, I began to look around.

Someone else was working on a computer in the back of the place. I wondered if the two store folks, separated by 300 feet or so, were emailing each other instead of talking back and forth. Maybe I should have logged into Twitter on my phone to speak to them.

ST: U are friendly on Twitter! Why not here?

Employee#1: I'm not the Twitter person.

Employee#2: Comeoutoftherain,makeyourselfathome,iloveyou. Please retweet.

I bought several books, but left feeling disappointed—and duped. Social media got me there, but I'm not rushing back any time soon. 


Amid a pile of Junior's school papers, I found the following list:

To Do

1. Get a gigantic snake.

2. Get a German Shepherd puppy.

3. Buy a Rolls Royce.

4. Everything else.

In terms of the blog lately, I've been a bit in the #4 mode. I've been reading up a storm...but adult books. Two of them did feature reclusive children's book author characters, and one could be a crossover book for teens. I'll try to write about that soon. My new-found wild enthusiasm for fiction in translation continues, and I've been studying sites like Words Without Borders, Three Percent, The Millions, and Translationista.

We visited my dad down south for a big birthday, and then hosted a mini-reunion of other family here at our house with ten tons of delicious New York deli-style food: bagels, lox, corned beef, pastrami, chocolate babka, half-sour pickles, the works. There should be an entire holiday devoted to eating chocolate babka; I may have to declare it. (Epicurious has a recipe I want to try.) During the reunion I was amazed when a young cousin almost single-handedly finished a difficult jigsaw puzzle of a William Wegman dog photo.

Part of last weekend was spent cleaning up the garden, and getting ready to plant herbs outside in less than a month. Woo hoo! The chickens accompanied Junior and me in our digging, and Lovey kicked dirt in our faces as she happily hunted for worms and bugs. We kept having to turn her around. Queen Elizabeth III (Queenie) is still a nervous sort, but we hope she'll come around and won't think of us as the Giant Enemies Who Must Be Avoided.

And, if you're a birder, you know that April is a huge month for migrating birds, and just this afternoon I spotted my first warbler of the year. Warblers are tiny songbirds, often brightly colored. They're hard to tell apart, so I've spent a lot of time going over the guide books in anticipation.

Happy April, happy reading, and happy everything else!