The Traveler, Annie

We randomly stop people while they browse our shelves. We ask them questions. We share their answers with you.

***

Annie is tall. And when she walks in, the store darkens momentarily because not only is she tall, her body is clothed in deep, dark hues of every color you can imagine. She looks French. And, it turns out, she is French — complete with an Amelie bob and everything. And she’s beautiful. But not in a glamorous way. She’s beautiful in an I-just-bathed-in-the-creek-and-made-mud-pies-with-the-birds-while-deer-braided-my-hair kind of way.

*

Annie: What is blog? I see this word everywhere.

PoaB: [short explanation: a blog is…]

Annie: But who is reading this?

PoaB: Well, there are many kinds. Specifically ours is about life in a small bookstore. We inform people about books we like, tell stories, things like that. And people read it if they find it interesting and they don’t if it’s not.

Annie: So what do you want to speak about with me?

PoaB: We’ll get to the very large stack of books you’ve piled up on our counter in a moment. But first, tell me why you’re in Los Angeles.

Annie: Just to see.

PoaB: How long do you plan on staying?

Annie: No planning. I go when I see enough. When it makes me ill, I go.

PoaB: I take it you aren’t sick of it yet. I’m glad. Will you be flying back to Nice?

Annie: Maybe. Maybe I go to Brazil. My ex-husband’s mother is dying. Maybe I go see her before she die.

PoaB: Are you comfortable with  our readers knowing that?

Annie: I’m comfortable generally.

PoaB: So, you’ve never been to the States?

Annie: This is my first.

PoaB: Your English is almost accent-less.

Annie: I’ve had many American lovers. Are you comfortable with your readers knowing this?

PoaB: I, too, am comfortable generally.

Annie: And I read since I was a child. All English books. I love Henry James, Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison. I read Camus in English once and never read it again in French. You know? He is better in English. Sylvia Plath I loved.

PoaB: That’s quite a mixed group!

Annie: I just like good books.

PoaB: That’s what I always say when people ask me what kind of books we sell here. I answer, “the good kind.”

Annie: That’s a good answer. I think it’s very specific. There aren’t that much good books, actually.

PoaB: Can we go over and see what you’ve picked out today?

Annie: Maybe, for sure, I won’t read all. And they are so heavy. So if I don’t like page 20 I give book to someone who has no money to buy book. I have only one small suitcase.

PoaB: Anthropology of an American Girl. I think you’ll like this one. Role Models. Do you know his work?

Annie: No. I like the cover.

PoaB: He’s a filmmaker. Let’s see. Kristin Lavransdatter. You have no idea what you’re in for with this one. Big Machine. Have you heard anything about these books? Why did you pick them?

Annie: No. I read what it is about. I like it or not like it. Why must I hear about book before I buy?

[Here is where a silence ensues. Besides the fact that we have on our hands here a wanderer living for the moment, why don’t we buy books anymore with no pre-conceptions? When is the last time you picked up a book every aspect of which (title, author, etc.) was totally unfamiliar to you?]

PoaB: You need not. Anne Sexton. I love Sexton. I love every word she pushed out. Do you know, she was severely depressed and her therapist suggested she write poems to help her work through her tangle of emotions! So this is all therapy! Have you read anything by her?

Annie: Yes. Everything. I knew a man once who called me Mademoiselle Sexton for six months I know him. I read all her poems. This book is my favorite and I miss it so I will keep this with me and have two of the same book when I go home.

PoaB: Princess Noire. If God were a figure and if that figure were female, she’d look and sound like Nina Simone.

Annie: I’ve saw her in the last concert of her life. I was pregnant then and you’re right. You only say that to be funny maybe but she had this force and it was not human.

PoaB: I believe you.

Annie: And What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. You like this one, too?

PoaB: Actually, this happens to be my third favorite short story collection in any language.

Annie: You’re funny.

PoaB: I’m being serious. It is. Raymond Carver was a kind of man that’s disappearing.

Annie: In that case, very good for me I pick him!

PoaB: Yes. I think you’ve made some very appropriate choices. It’s a mixed group– just the way you like it.

Annie: You’re funny.

-Aida


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