Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

A Curious Experience in Our Local Bookstore


On Thursday last I had a curious experience at Brazos Bookstore on Bissonet. Brazos is the sole remaining bookshop in the city. I had gone there to order a book, Rudiments of Music (de Stewart Macpherson (Auteur), Anthony Payne (Sous la direction de) Stainer & Bell Ltd; Édition : 3rd Revised edition (novembre 1969), to brush up on my musical reading and writing which have been long locked within me. I would rather give them my custom than order online.

I had a wee chat with Benjamin Rybeck, the store’s long time manager. – I like him a lot – to assure myself that the store was not going the path of twee arts bookshops. The one at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is deplorable. Few books, many stupid trinkets. That an art museum sells these sort of junk, well …

Ben assured me that the non book stuff was a minor part of the store’s business. In my view it is not worthy of being carried by a respectable bookshop. The sort of thing you get in a stationary. He tells me that Brazos is expanding the amount of fiction shelves, music to my ears. I read, apart from  non fiction, literature from Eastern Europe, the former Yugoslavian states, and Russia and its former client states. Despite the fall of Communism now being firmly in the past, the younger generation is still held by its grip on their society and culture. Strange. A central reasons for reading this literature is that it takes me out of our immediate surrounds, and is intrinsically interesting. But more importantly, it is not domestic fiction of which I have had my fill. By domestic, I mean some book set within the US or the UK. The writing of such books, even if written by supposedly good writers, is, for the most part, poorly written. The setting within which the book is placed does not excite the writer and the book is therefore mundane. Never do any writers in either country concern themselves with the issues we face, issues which matter.

It took an Indian writer in his most recent book, his name is missing in my mind (Climate change with Amitav Ghosh and Aaron Thier – books podcast) for the moment, to write within a fiction frame about Global Warming and was castigated for it in many book reviews of his work. The cheek!

But back to Ben. Ben knows well my taste, I am in there once a week and have gone there for decades, and, on this occasion, he was showing me new publishers who carry the kind of work I like.

I suppose he may be offended should he read this column, so I shall try to put on my best Sunday suit in writing what follows. 

He picks up a book and flourishes it at me, The Sadness, his first published book, he tells me. The book is set in Portland, Maine, a fine city I understand.

I purchase it. After all, does one not wish to support a fellow writer whom one knows?

“You won’t like it,” he says as I am getting ready to leave.

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 12 August, 2017

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Filed under: Arts, Current Events, Media, Memoir, Music, poetry, songs, stories

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