Blog post Number 35 Written: 06-26-2021 Uploaded 10-22-2022
In my dusty little red neck town where I grew up, there was only one book store, if you could call it a store. It was more like an old lady with three sheds full of books, and the sheds had been grafted together, into one ‘building’ and sometimes she shared her books. Her ‘store’ was right next to the town’s radio station, which was in a converted single-wide trailer that was older than my parents. Her store shed whatever it was looked like it belonged on an episode of some reality TV show about hoarding. Books packed floor to ceiling on all the old shelves, and more shelves just haphazardly packed in where ever there was room for another shelf. The shelves overflowing and collapsing under the weight of books. The books were just on the shelves, they were packed in the shelves. Sure they stood upright, but there were some sideways, stacked on top of each other, crammed in on top of the other books if there was a gap between them and the shelf above. There was no room for those books to breathe. And when the shelves were full she brought in chairs, plastic chairs, folding lawn chairs wooden chairs from the dinner table. And stacked books on those, and then under them, just on a pile on the floor. There were no isles. One couldn’t see from the front to the back, there were literally mounds of books obstructing the view. Getting across the store was harder than playing a game of hopscotch because if you jumped wrong, you’d damage some books. I’m surprised she lived to retirement rather than being buried alive under the hoard of her books. The store’s closed now, and for some reason that makes me sad, anyway…
Also, I was a high school student without a regular income or internet. I spent what few sweaty crumpled dollars I had on books from her store because that’s what there was. She had a plastic milk crate, sometimes even two, they were on the front porch of her shed store, sitting on a rough-hewn log that had been split in half and turned into a bench, a bench that no one except the wandering cats that lived in/around/near/under the books store ever sat on. Those two milk crates were my lifeline. They were full of used paperbacks. $1 each.
I thought that was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’d scrounge up an extra twenty, buy an armload of 1960’s paperbacks, and drag them home. I read them carefully, I had to ration them, made those twenty books last me a whole month. I don’t have as many as I would like in my library anymore. I’m not sure what happened to all of them. I know I left two or three for my brother, I think my father kept a few, and I traded some to friends because remember how I said I didn’t have internet? The whole town didn’t have internet it was too small and out of the way for the companies to be bothered to run fiberoptic cable to it. So you either had dial-up over the phone line like my parents, or satellite internet that was almost fast enough to watch YouTube.
That was around the same time I Discovered Orson Scott-Card in my high school library. So the next time I returned to her crate of books on the log bench, I looked for sci-fi. That’s when I discovered my love… my fetish for science fiction and my love for Frank Frazzetta. Rummaging through those heavily used books. There were more than I had the money for. I had to choose, which books of my new sci-fi genre obsession I could take home. That was a painful decision. They all had very 1960’s cover art, they were all the same price, being cheap pocket sizes (3’x5’) paperbacks they were all within a hundred pages of length of each other. So I decided which ones to take home based on smell. Yes, I literally bought books because they smelled better than others.
If those books could talk, I would love to hear their stories, the places those books have been, who’s hands have held them, the backpacks they rode in, who’s tears fell on their pages when their characters died.
Because of that little book store, and those milk crates of old paperbacks, and Orson Scott-Card I love sci-fi, I love old sci-fi from the 60’s set in the year 2000 so we can laugh at how optimistic they were. Because of those things, that is why I write, why I write the specific content that I write, I love and always recommend ‘classic’ sci-fi. I hope my book series, The Descendant Saga lives up to them, that it pays appropriate homage, that it becomes a classic just like the rest. If you have read those kinds of sci-fi books and take it upon yourself to read mine. I would love feedback, and how it stands up compared to the greats, the classics like I mentioned.