I finally made it to my local large shopping centre on the week-end to do some of those boring chores such as changing my phone plan, and I encountered a minor miracle! Lo and behold I saw before me, in a prime location, a new bookshop stocked with a wide array of intelligent reading material.
In the past two years all four bookshops in my local area have closed and it has been getting harder to buy “hard-copy” books. Like you probably do, I own an e-reader (mine is a Kindle) and I use it for reading what I call my “mind-candy”, primarily crime novels to read before I go to sleep. This doesn’t stop me craving a visit to a bookshop which has always been one of my favourite pastimes, and I have spent many a happy hour, and considerably more dollars, in them.
Needless to say I had to go in and buy something to support this seemingly foolhardy endeavour in these digital times. I’m pleased to say that there were many people browsing and quite a few actually buying books.
I spotted Paul Theroux’s latest travel book Deep South and bought it immediately. I have always loved his travel books, though I realised that I have never read any of his fiction.
When I got home I curled up on the couch and started reading. It was absolute bliss to read a book by a writer who knows how to write a good sentence, knows how to punctuate, how to use a metaphor and a simile, and how to use, or not use, adjectives and adverbs! If words can be considered delicious, in that they can be a feast for our eyes and our senses, then his vocabulary and his mastery of it, is truely scrumptious.
The subject matter also held a deep nostalgic appeal. Back in 1993 my then partner and I spent ten weeks wandering around the USA by plane, train and automobile, including two wonderful weeks in Alabama to visit friends.
I prepared for that trip by reading Blue Highways the classic masterpiece of a road trip book by William Least Heat-Moon, which, I’m very pleased to say, I have just discovered is still in print.
Oh how reading Deep South, and thinking about that long ago trip, made me want to buy a ticket or jump in my car and head off somewhere with, as the late, great Chuck Berry used to sing … No Particular Place To Go.