FRANKLY, I don’t see much difference between what sits on the fiction shelves of my book- store and what walks in the door. In a vacation town way out on the Cape, you expect ragged, you expect half-dressed-and hey, there is that: baggy bathing suit holding hands with skimpy bathing suit, psychoanalyst on vacation wearing a Viagra tee shirt for a gag. Beat up and informal, my cus- tomers, like some books I’ve got, well-wrecked, covers lost, illustrations and layouts that seemed fresh and hip back in the 60′s. But ragged and out of date isn’t what I mean. I’m thinking of how peo- ple walk around the store as if they were inhabi- tants of the novels and plays I sell. You can see it in the elegant ways they mispronounce Baudrillard or mise en scene or gemeinschaft, the trill or growl of an r, the nasal vowel, little signs to indicate how at home they are in my United Nations of literature. And even more so in their swaggers and slumps, the way a simple question can open a whole address book of miserable relationships.
About the Author
John J. Clayton is the autor most recently of Kuperman’s Fire (Parmanent Press), a novel, and Wrestling with Angels (Toby Press), a collection of stories, several of which first appeared in COMMENTARY.