That’s right, 90 degrees and sunny to freezing bloody cold in just a few insidious hours. Our solution in one word: books, and no, not the sort of books that you throw in the furnace, the sort that you read beside the stove to “warm the cockles of your heart”.
Books, we got ’em. Just in: Alain de Botton’s brief book on the week he spent as Heathrow Airport’s “writer in residence”. That’s right. He actually sat at a table on the concourse and pecked at his MacBook. While doing so, he chatted up travelers, employees and so forth and philosophized. If you’re not familiar with Mr. De Botton’s agile and funny mind, this might be a good place to start, especially if you’re going on a trip. His book is lighter than a Kindle.
Robert Michael Pyle’s Mariposa Road harks to warmer days as he traverses our country in search of Lepidoptera… a series of colorful, often hilarious accounts of one man’s pleasant obsessive-compulsive madness re: seeing all the butterflies there are to see. Beats stamp collecting, if you ask me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Also in: Christopher Brownfield’s My Nuclear Family, which I have already scanned for accounts of exactly what it’s like to live in a nuclear powered sub with a 500 ton battery. I actually gritted my teeth reading about the hull-imploding oceanic threshold known as “crush depth”. There’s much more to this book than that: edge of your seat, stylistically spare gripping accounts of recent military actions and intelligent insight into U.S. foreign policy.
A new William Gibson, Zero History has also just hit the shelves. Not that we buy all of the progenitor of cyberpunk’s books, but leafing through this one really bookends a couple of decades for me as the first time I heard of The Mercantile Library was in a notice of his visit the The Library circa his history-making breakthrough, Neuromancer, in the thrall of which I found myself at the time. This was also my first interlibrary loan. The concept that I could walk into a library and get just about any book from anywhere blew my mind more than Gibson’s coining the word “cyberspace” in a novel he had written on a Hermes 2000 typewriter, pre-Internet.
I’d also like to announce my new “best/worst title” title-holder: Before you Suffocate your Own Fool Self by Columbia U. laureate Danielle Evans. Notice to Mercantile short story fans, all three of you, this also happens to be a stellar short story collection dealing with growing up African American in America. -Ed Scripsi