Friday, May 26, 2006

Beyond Borders

Although some favorite places for me are "used" bookstores such as Strands or the Mercer Street Bookstore, an even headier afternoon is spent at new bookstores. Borders is nearby, so is Barnes & Noble, and Shakespeare & Company Booksellers. Although Shakespeare's remains in the vein of a classical bookstore, Barnes & Noble and Borders are a new breed, a kind of comfortable library for browsing in the hopes that we will decide to buy. In many communities, these bookstores become cultural meeting places and have served to underscore the importance of books in our lives. If anything, digital technology has made the book format even more popular and readily available.

Walking into such a place, seeing the Starbucks-like atmosphere, people lounging in easy chairs and sofas with stacks of books, others in the coffee-shop area with stacks of books on tables and lattes in hand, makes me want to read everything at once. First the titles beckon, urging me to discover their hidden meanings, and artwork abounds with seductive shapes and colors. I grow drunk with expectation.

I attack the books randomly, going first to the tables filled with new fiction. I open a book to some random page and begin reading, after several paragraphs or pages, depending on how the prose grabs me, I go on to another book, and another book... a literal infusion of words, a transfusion of prose, an array of styles, all coming together with abrupt swiftness and opening my mind, expanding me to places beyond... Time is suspended and I am immersed in the miracle of writing... transported beyond the borders of my own confines into the minds and sensibilities of many authors.

There are so many new and good writers, all deserving to be read. Such great styles, and so many ways to invent new worlds. I carry out these maneuvers every Saturday in some unsuspecting frontier of literature. The words lay between covers, waiting to ignite the passions of browsers, to convert them to readers and advocates. Words and phrases are waiting to unleash the energy of the imagination in countless ways. And I am poisd on the brink of new adventures all erupting beyond the borders of my mind.

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