Entering that gable-ended used bookstore, you found yourself in a narrow room, crowded with bookshelves, book stacks, boxes of books, more a place for discarded paper than a repository of knowledge. Such unaccountable masses of paper, must, mold, it seemed the nostalgic creation of some book-loving-or-hating Damien Hirst. But what confounds you the most in this bookstore is the heavy weight of unread and unloved things in the world, an orphanage for the dreams of liberal arts majors, and the used bookstore owner, some dreary soul, burdened with the lumpy, soggy, blotchy forms of the world’s unloved.
Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that you find yourself marveling before.
“Do you intend to buy something?”
You stare at the man, deaf and dumb at his question. Of course, you don’t intend to buy anything. That’s not the purpose of the used bookstore. Instead, you intend to stare, sympathetically at this monument to human failure…as one would a Damien Hirst exhibit.
Isn’t your sympathy enough? And when the winter comes and the flowers freeze and die, the bookshop-keeper too will pass away, and another, equally old and pitiable sapling will spring forth to take its place.
The old man holds up an old, moldy copy of Moby Dick. “How about this one?”
You hold up your e-Reader, and as you do, the old bookstore keeper appears to you suspended perpendicular, dissected into three pieces, in three adjacent boxes with his mouth open, as if to be saying perpetually into a void, “Buy something?”