Mike’s trip to the public library

If you read my blog (you don’t and I don’t blame you), you know it’s been a bit of a tumultuous time for me lately. Saturday was especially tough. I was underslept, overstimulated, depressed and defeated. I am broke so I could not buy food to eat away my emotions. Instead, I went to an old cure: the public library.

I’d been meaning to go to pick up a copy of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury to read for Heart of Lit. I had used the online database to see if they had a copy in stock and was told to check the shelf. Oakland Public Library can be a bit frustrating in that regard (and a lot of other regards that don’t come into play here). So I had to go with hope in mind.

The library is within walking distance, but it’s a long walk and my dog isn’t good enough to sit outside patiently while I’m inside so I drove. It was Saturday, so I planned on plugging the meter. $2/hour in Oakland. The meter I parked at was failed. I was off to a good start.

I had had fear about going to the library on a Saturday. It would be packed, I figured, people everywhere. I was wrong. Even the DVD section (which seemed to have grown a lot since I was last there) was mostly empty.

I walked straight into the tiny room (it’s an internal room with narrow aisles and two doorways at either end, very claustrophobic, and perpetuates the myth that all readers are pale nerds who can’t use their bodies simply by existing) that shelves fiction (I seriously don’t understand how the main library’s fiction section can be so small. It’s like a large personal collection) and found Faulkner.

This was coincidentally in the same aisle as Coupland. I have something of a comfort food relationship with Generation X. Far and away, it’s the book I’ve read most in my life. I turn to it when I’m feeling shitty. I haven’t read it in a while. Maybe it would cure my current shittyness. A while back I put a sticker on one of the public library’s copies of Generation X. It’s still there.

I wish I could describe the thrill I originally got from putting the sticker there or from finding the book still in rotation. Though I doubt many, if any, people have seen this book, given it’s age and that there are multiple copies here, and I have clear artistic objections to defacing a book, I love that this exists. And I’ll tell you here that I think this is a fucking genius choice for this particular book. (My copy has no sticker, but my ex-girlfriend’s parents’ dog did pee on it and that event nearly ruined my life.)

Suddenly I was reinvigorated. I grabbed Generation A because I have not read it. There’s a quote from Vonnegut on the back inside flap and I said to myself, “Fuck yeah!” I felt alive. (“The world is alive.”) I wandered through aisles, knowing I could only manage to read 2 books in the allotted checkout time and I was being frivolous. Stephenson,  Murakami, Infinite Jest, Cloud Atlas, To the Lighthouse. A list of to-be-reads was being formed for the first time in forever. (I’ve made this list so many times and never manage to keep it with any real vigor.) A hopeful mania. I looked up the latest Murakami and saw that the written word is on fire.

I talked to no one save the checkout clerk (who barely said anything but still managed to be condescending) and felt a part of a community. Go books!

Valerie’s response

Go books, indeed. Have been reading lots of kidbooks, the children picked out 19 dozen on Saturday. I will read Infinite Jest if you are going to try, I’ve wanted to read the entire DFW oeuvre. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE IS YES A MUST READ YES

I need to revisit Gen X, which I gulped like a sundae in a sitting for my first/only read. I want to read more Coupland as well, almost got his new book last visit.


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