Have any of you ever read Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto?*
No? You should.
Do you see music as a sort of force that can link time and people together, that can form its own world and transcend everything from violence to love because it is at once a part of all that makes us human…plus something more?
Then yes, you should read Bel Canto. It’s a beautiful, haunting suspension of time and reality played out through the world of music.
I dreamed about Bel Canto last night, and about its author, Ann Patchett. I dreamed that Miss Patchett came into the store and offered to sign books for anyone who was interested. I own several of her books, though I think that Bel Canto is her best. Still, as I was at work, off I ran to find a copy of Bel Canto, as I’d be more than willing to buy a second copy if she’d sign it. I rushed and rushed through the store, trying desperately to find one of the six copies we were supposed to have, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. Almost in tears, I finally retreated to the main desk, where Miss Patchett was. About to leave, she turned to the booksellers (we were all gathered there at the desk) and asked us, bluntly, “Do any of you even know who I am?”
Ann Patchett is a pretty well-known author, mind you.
And I was the only person who knew who she was.
It doesn’t take a psychological genius to figure this one out, no?
I’m in the process of being replaced by hoards of people who don’t read, who don’t know anything about books, who care even less. They can sell technology; hurray for them, that’s an important skill, but they don’t know books.
I have one manager who does read on occasion. (I shall call her Suzy, which may or may not be her real name, as I expect she’ll provide plenty of blog fodder.) I suggested a book to her over a month ago. It’s a fast read of perhaps 250 pages. She did buy it on my recommendation, and she seems to even be enjoying it a little…but she’s also been reading it ever since I suggested it, and isn’t even almost finished. Suzy, you see, just “isn’t a reader.” But she’s PERKY! And UPBEAT! And she knows that the only reason we never complete all the work we’re supposed to on each shift is that we just don’t TRY hard enough and don’t have enough TEAM! SPIRIT! It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that our staffing levels have been cut from anywhere between 40-60% per shift and our expected work output has jumped approximately 30%. Don’t quote these numbers to her, mind, because if you do she’ll explain (in a voice appropriate for speaking to uniquely dense third-graders) that you just aren’t working hard enough, ’cause you and your coworkers have only been able to increase your productivity by 15% or so.
Yep, this is a pretty depressing start to a book blog. You’re reading a blog called A Dying Breed. What the hell did you expect?
*I’ll be doing a little old-fashioned bookselling on here from time to time, and when I mention a book I’ll link to the abebooks search results for it. Abebooks is a sort of online marketplace for thousands of independent booksellers. Since I consider myself a bookseller (even if I work for a company that cares nothing for book culture), I’ll try to point any interested readers towards sellers of used books whenever I can. The prices are generally better than at the bricks-and-mortar stores, and you’ll help keep an independent bookseller from the poorhouse by purchasing from him. I do, of course, strongly encourage you to support any local independent bookstore you may be fortunate enough to have in the neighborhood.