Thursday, June 28, 2012

We Already Have a George

I keep having these ideas for things that I want to write about, and then when it comes time to start writing each night, I work on the long Irvington novel I have been wanting to write for awhile now and which I kick-started last November by forcing myself to work on it during National Novel Writing Month. And every now and again I think that I should maybe work one of these longer posts up into an actual non-fiction essay and submit to some literary magazine or other. I usually don’t have that thought for very long (and am, in fact, well aware that it is some kind of delusion of grandeur).

My half-baked thought for today is that I wish I had left Barnes & Noble for last, like I usually do when we go to Bloomington. Hot on the heels of that thought, though, is that we did everything ass-backwards today. We ate before we went to Bloomington. What the hell is that? If there’s even the slimmest possibility that a trip to Bloomington could be in the offing, then lunch or dinner—in Bloomington—becomes part of that equation. I don’t remember the last time we went to Bloomington and didn’t eat there. But Amy’s been clambering for Indian food lately, so we swung by a place on the south side called the Clay Oven.

And then I drove into town the wrong way and parked on the wrong side of campus—because I wanted to reconnoiter the construction on the bypass to see if going by the bookstore later in the day was going to be a bad idea, adding rush hour traffic to the cluster fuck going on at the intersection of College Mall Road, 3rd Street, and the bypass. The construction looks finished from 17th almost all the way around to 10th Street, but you can’t turn toward campus onto 10th Street, and it’s still pretty much a war zone from 10th Street south to the mall. I decided to go ahead and pop in at Barnes & Noble so that it would be out of the way.

I was hoping to find the new issue of n+1, which the stores in greater Indianapolis have stopped carrying—surprise!—and to see what else they had in the way of literary magazines. Lately it seems as though the Bloomington branch of Barnes & Noble is about the best place there is to look for literary magazines (other than on the magic internets), but even their selection isn’t much to write home about. However, they did have the new n+1, which I gobbled up; and I also got the Athlon pro football preview book, just on a lark. There’s a story on Andrew Luck, and also one on Peyton Manning in Denver, both of which should be interesting.

And then I parked on the wrong side of campus. We almost always park somewhere west of Indiana Avenue, usually on 4th Street or 7th Street; but today I just sidled up to a spot on Union Street, alongside the gigantic new residence hall they built by demolishing a good chunk of Ashton Center (including the Center Building, where I spent many an evening in the dishroom, but not Hershey Hall, where I lived as a freshman). It was nice to hit those old Ashton Center stomping grounds again, which we don’t always get to when we park on the other side of campus. Then we went over to the Union, where I found a copy of the student literary magazine (distribtued gratis) in a little rack that was hidden off to the side inside the Starbucks they built inside the Union.

Then we went downtown. We were having a nice trip to Bloomington, which the last several had not been, and I wanted to walk around the courthouse square to see if any new places had popped up since last we had really been down to look around; but then we got to the corner of Kirkwood and Walnut, in front of the Trojan Horse, and I looked across Kirkwood and saw the little book shop called Book Corner. I am positive I never went in there once when I was a student, and I am pretty sure that I have only been in there once in the time since I was a student. I don’t think this affinity for literary magazines had struck the last time I was in, because I’m sure that, had it done, I would have remembered that they have a great selection of literary magazines.

Instant buyer’s remorse, of course. They had the new issue of n+1 that I had already bought at Barnes & Noble, and I stood there for a few seconds staring at it numbly on the rack at Book Corner. In the backpack on my shoulders was something I had bought at a chain bookstore when I could have had the very same thing—for the very same price—at this independent place; and I should have known better, because I knew the Book Corner store was there. I didn’t look for the Athlon pro football book, because it doesn’t matter if they carry that kind of thing or not. I’m not always in the market for that one, and it only comes out once a year, anyway. What I did also look for was Film Comment—which they had. They did not have the Indiana Review or New Letters, which Barnes & Noble had, but both places had Zoetrope All-Story, Poetry, Glimmer Train, and the Paris Review. Book Corner also had the Georgia Review, the Kenyon Review, Pleiades, Verse, the Baffler, and a handful of other things that I can’t recall right now right off the top of my head.

Some things you just learn the hard way, I guess. I’ll take some small measure of comfort in the fact that by buying n+1 at Barnes & Noble this time, I voted there with my dollars, and let them know that there is at least a little bit of interest in that magazine. I do wish, though, that I had left Barnes & Noble for last, like I usually do. Then I would not have already bought the magazine when I popped into Book Corner, and I could have voted with my dollars there, which would have been much more satisfying. I’m already thinking ahead to my next trip down to Bloomington, and hoping that the floodgates don’t open so wide that I drop an obscene amount of money—though the temptation to do so is going to be considerable.

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