Bookstore as Escape Hatch

The Los Angeles Times published an interesting piece a few days ago by a writer named David Ulin entitled Letter from New York: St. Mark’s Bookshop.

If anyone has any doubt that genre fiction has crossed over—not just into the mainstream but also into more alternative corners of the culture—New York’s St. Mark’s Bookshop offers indisputable proof. I made a quick visit there this morning, and a good half of the featured new and noteworthy titles were mystery and science fiction: Walter Mosley’s Blonde Faith, the anthologies Manhattan Noir 2 and Steampunk—all on the shelves where volumes of Lacan and Derrida used to preside.

Ulin concludes with

This, it seems to me, is the real draw of books—not escapism but real (if temporary) escape. If the scene at St. Mark’s this morning is any indication, I’m not the only one who needs that in the midst of these confusing days.

Ulin makes me want to drop everything and head for the nearest excellent old bookstore to look for a door into a better world.

The LA Times also has a piece by Geoff Boucher on the reissue of Christopher Priest’s Inverted World.


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