When I was a wee lad of 20ish I used to haunt a used book store called Pyramid Books in Peekskill (“pee, dubba e, ess kye, ell” as Christa used to say. More about her and Pete someday maybe. Probably not though.) It had all the trimmings; the old book smell (you know…rot), the hot little girl working the front counter, isles of too close too tall shelves of too many books, creaky hardwood floor. It was awesome.
I used to come out of there with armloads of stuff I’d never read (not that I knew that then), but just used to have for the love of them.
There were a few used book stores around when I moved back down to Brooklyn, but most of them were pretty threadbare, so I didn’t go in more than a couple few times. Sure, there would occasionally be a new batch of engineering books from some donation or something, and I’d pick through them pretty thoroughly. But for the most part it was just crap.
But last year, when I moved down here to Nashville, I kept hearing tell of this used book metropolis, McKay’s. I went once soon after I moved in to the apartment (I spent the first couple months down here in a hotel, as I didn’t have a job) and came out with my eyes just glazed over, carrying as much as I possibly could, drooling.
But between the “52 books this year” challenge (which looks like it’s going to prove to be an absolute cakewalk) and the glaringly empty second bookshelf from last weekend (really? last weekend? Wasn’t that a month ago?) I’ve been….feeling the itch.
Finally this weekend I decided it was time to go. So I hitched up the horse and buggy, plugged the address into the gps, and was lead 40 miles in the exact opposite direction.
Because that’s what you get when you try to find an address on “Old Hickory” in central Tennessee. There are eleventyhundred of them, so any numeric address on “Old Hickory Blvd” is going to exist in triplicate within an hour of wherever you are, which fucking annoys me to no end. The inability of people down here to give discrete directions is actually pretty impressive. “Turn left down by where the old church used to be.”
Eyerolling aside, I didn’t mind SO much since I was listening to the final confrontation chapters of The Graveyard Book, which are fucking riveting, especially with the full cast recording of the audio book.
Pulling into the church parking lot that definitely was NOT McKay’s, I sighed and keyed “McKay’s” into the gps, instead of the address because fuck you too garmin and it plotted out what seemed like a more sensible course, which I took.
Pulling in to the parking lot there was still far too much going on in The Graveyard Book for me to get out, so I ended up sitting there, truck running, for about 45 minutes before I found a good breaking point.
I got all excited heading in to McKay’s. It was about as busy as I expected and the size of the place, for a used bookstore, is always overwhelming. It’s about as big as a normal 2-floor Barnes & Noble. I made my way around electronics (they have a lot of stereo equipment, used gaming consoles, and instruments, rather reminding me of a pawn shop more than anything) tried to look at used video games (I still don’t have anything for my xbox 360 except Saints Row 1 and 2.) But that was mobbed by wheelchair bound weebs and rude kids so I headed over to the computer section.
Nothing. It was all just garbage. Dummies books, “how to use an iPhone 2 for seniors” garbage and the like. I looked at the traffic and realized there was absolutely no chance I’d find anything of that broad interest. Over to finance and economics…nothing. Just…nothing.
Alright. Fantasy pulp. HERE were the books. SO many out of print trade paperbacks. Forgotten Realms stuff (which I just adore), a whole vertical shelf of Dragonlance books (I’d been wanting to reread a bunch of those.) All with split bindings, having been read by some kind of fucking savage. The prices were…well…60 to 80% of cover price. I kept picking up books, looking at their condition and price, then making an “uch” noise before putting them down.
The ‘oversized F/SF’ section had the compilations and first-runs. I found “Ready Player One” which people can’t seem to shut the fuck up about. Cover price was $3 less than their asking price, and I just got angry.
Back up to audio books, movies, another run through used video games….nothing.
I left, got in the truck, and headed down to Brentwood, to barnes & noble. I don’t mind paying full price. I was just hoping for some finds. But the condition of the trade paperbacks was horrid and just sent me off.
The Graveyard Book finished while I was on my way there, and there was an afterward by Gaiman about where he got the idea for the book, the process, etc. He mentioned conspiratorially that Liza Hempstock (the witch if you’ve read it, and…the witch if you hadn’t either I suppose) was indeed related to the Hempstocks in “The Ocean At The End Of The Lane”, which made that decision for me.
I walked in to barnes & noble…mad.
Not just mad, righteous.
I should never EVER be armed with purchasing tools when I’m feeling righteous (or, frankly, many other times at all.) I went tearing through the fantasy section. First Dragonlance trilogy? Yep. Ready Player One? Grab THAT along with “The Ocean At The End Of The Lane”, a boxed set of Brian Sanderson’s “Mistborn” trilogy, which people on various subreddits will NOT STFU about, so fuck THEM. Then I ‘picked up’ (which I’ve realized is my personal euphemism for “bought but am at least moderately ashamed of the expendature” a couple short story compilations of “Urban Fantasy”, some of which sadly include the dresden files guy, whose writing I can’t stand. A certain level of pulp I positively love, but his protagonist should be named Markeysue von Hackneytrope.
So I kept walking around, growing stack in my arms, ponytail bouncing behind me, grumbling to myself as I was unable to find something I wanted in to programming section (srsly, I’ve cleaned them the fuck out.)
Finally realized I couldn’t actually hold any more books (I’d dropped the Sanderson boxed set a few times) so I made my way to check out and saw the Make Magazine issue about making Raspberry Pi bots. Yep. I need THAT. And a cute girl said “I can take you down here.” … What? I can’t help it. Every time a girl says that I raise an eyebrow. Oh fuck you. Judge me at your own peril.
Anyway we chatted a bit about Gaiman and stuff, complete with some conspicuous giggling and I left to go buy food for eat.
They look good, sitting there. I’m not sure which I’ll pick up first. Probably Ready Player One, if for no other reason than to get people off my ass about it.