Can you see James Dean in a wet overcoat drifting through the bookshop?
I got this impression one day as I idled away an hour or so waiting for a trade show to begin. I was in the central part of our city drifting from shopfront to shopfront – looking with great pleasure at all the things I was not compelled to possess. I was just congratulating myself that I own a pair of shoes already – the shoe shop window did that for me – when my eye caught a remainder bookstore on the second floor of an arcade.
I love these places. They are as good as the New York Book review in pointing out the best in literature – you look at what is sitting on the tables and then whatever is not sold there is actually, by default, good. In the case of this shop it was organised enough to categorise the books for sale into Non-desirable Fiction and Non-desirable Non-fiction. I think they had a section reserved for Gifts That Slightly Wound and Future Shelf Linings. To their credit, there was only one book that had been thrown out of a public library with its Dewey label still attached.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not dissing the entire affair, for I know that gems often lie buried in mud. This shop was no exception. I found a book that escaped me 7 years ago when I failed to pick it up in Melbourne. It was pristine, and may well have been the same copy. I am going to make the experiment of selecting the least salable of the books I see on my 2017 trip to Melbourne, mark it secretly on an interior page, and then wait to see if it lobs up in Forrest Chase. Stranger things have happened.
I daresay one sale would not have cheered up the man running the place – I can only hope that he is such an avid reader that he regards his stock as a gold mine of information, because if he hopes for fortune from it, he is going to get iron pyrites all the way. I’ll visit again soon…hopefully before the bailiff.