Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Closing Time

This summer I've been working the closing shift frequently at Micawber's. Typically, I like to work a variety - some days, evenings, weekends. But, because of summer schedules and child care, I've been working a lot of nights.

At first I wasn't happy about this. I like spending the evening with my family. I like being home after dinner. But, working the evening shift is growing on me. I've been able to observe the nightly flow of life in our little neighborhood.

Right around 5:30 pm there is a distinct drop in customer traffic. I call it the dinner drop. That's when I typically eat my own dinner. As the evening progresses, there are always people walking by, and I can usually guess where they are headed and if they will stop in.

The people I don't recognize who are dressed up - usually couples or multi-generational groups - are headed to Muffeletta for dinner. People walking their dog, baby or self will not stop in if there are head phones involved or anyone crying. People who park, hop out alone and hustle down the sidewalk are on a mission. They are taking a quick stop into the Little Wine Shop for some beer or wine. They won't come into the bookstore because they have somewhere to go.

The strolling people are different. They will likely come inside. If they are dressed up and I don't recognize them, they are most likely waiting for their Muffeletta seating time. If they are in casual clothes and I don't recognize them, they have heard about the bookstore or the neighborhood or were just shopping at Bibelot and thought they would stop in.

If it's someone in casual clothes and I do recognize them, they are very likely to come into the store. Most likely, the reason they are walking down the sidewalk is to come to Micawber's.

Evening traffic in the store mainly consists of:

1. People picking up their special order book after we called to tell them it was in,
2. Parents getting a last-minute birthday present for their kid's friend,
3. People buying vacation reading for a vacation that starts tomorrow,
4. People who have never been to Micawber's but have heard it was really nice and wanted to check it out before they have dinner at Muffeletta,
5. Women picking up their book club book that they need to read by next week,
6. College students (or people new to the neighborhood) who would want to hang out (if only we had wireless.)

Of course, there are many exceptions to the above list. We have a wide and wonderful range of customers and friends at Micawber's.

Despite having to work late, take out the trash, and hoping the computer doesn't crash and delay my trip home, I've come to appreciate the nightly ebb and flow of our neighborhood and evening bookselling, in general.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Girl Who Played With Fire (again)

I just finished the book. I have only three things to say:

1. The book ended with a big cliff-hanger. (Not uncommon for middle books of a trilogy.)

2. I simply can not wait a whole year for Book #3: THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS' NEST. (I may have to order a copy from England. Or beg the publisher for an Advance Reader copy now!)

3. I am feeling sad that Stieg Larsson died. I would have enjoyed reading a lot more of his work.

That's it. I fear if I say anything else I will have said too much.

Read it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Everything For A Dog

Last night I met with my Book Club. We are three friends (Jenny, Wendy and me) and have been meeting monthly to discuss books for over 10 years. This month we read EVERYTHING FOR A DOG, the forthcoming middle grade novel by Ann M. Martin. Last year, we read A DOG'S LIFE, also by Martin, and loved it. So, we wanted to read the companion book, which comes out in September 2009 from Feiwel and Friends.

EVERYTHING FOR A DOG follows the journey of Bone, brother of Squirrel, the main character in A DOG'S LIFE. Bone and Squirrel are dogs. They begin life in a garden shed. Then, one day, when their mother does not return, they set off together. Soon, they are separated and do not meet again. Squirrel's tale is told from a first-person(dog) perspective in A DOG'S LIFE. And, boy, does Martin nail Squirrel's perspective!

Jenny, Wendy and I all agree that Ann M. Martin's greatest strength is her ability to think (and write) like a dog. She doesn't place human emotions and sensibilities onto her dog characters. Rather, she excellently channels her "inner-dog" to create a very real, very believable doggie perspective. It's actually quite extraordinary.

I met Ann Martin once at a school reading event. She showed slides of her pets, including her beloved dog. Anyone who meets her (or reads her books) can tell she knows and loves dogs. As a dog-owner and lover myself, I can really relate to her characters - both dog and human.

EVERYTHING FOR A DOG is Bone's story, but is also the story of two boys who love dogs. It's told in three parts - Bone, Charlie, and Henry. Bone tells his part in first-person. Charlie's story is told in 3rd person, present tense. Henry's is 3rd person, past tense. This might seem confusing, but as you read it, it all flows together. In fact, Jenny and Wendy didn't even notice the point of view shifts.

At Book Club, we all enjoyed reading EVERYTHING FOR A DOG. Ann Martin's inclusion of the two central human characters provides an even deeper understanding of the world of dogs and the people who love them. The three different narrative strains come together seamlessly in the end. And the end is very satisfying.

The only negative comment we had at Book Club was that it took awhile to get to the "new" material. The first couple Bone chapters feel too repetitive of the first book, A DOG'S LIFE. We wanted a quicker summary of the first book's events so we could move to Bone's new story more quickly.

Overall, EVERYTHING FOR A DOG is an excellent read for dog lovers of any age. If you are an adult and love dogs, you need to read this book. Just because it's labeled "for kids," don't shy away. Our Book Club agreed EVERYTHING FOR A DOG was a good read for any age.