Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Scouting Berkeley/Oakland bookshops

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What I bought at Diesel Books

Scouting Berkeley/Oakland Bookshops

“Someone should open a store dedicated only to the work of Joyce Carol Oates.”
“There’d certainly be enough.”
I’m browsing the stacks of Diesel Book Store on the border of Berkeley and Oakland and listening to the booksellers as they shelve.
"Are we re-ordering Telegraph?"
She’s referring to the latest by local bestselling novelist, Michael Chabon: Telegraph Avenue.
“It’s over. Off the lists.”
Ouch, I think.
“When’s Fathers’ Day?’
“Third Sunday in June.’
“Because we need to start thinking of adding Dads to the Grads table.”
Dads and Grads. Of course. I’ve spotted U.C. Berkeley grads in their black robes and mortar boards all day.
It’s always instructive for published writers to listen to the casual conversation of booksellers. And humbling, not that writers need more opportunities to feel humbled.
At Mrs. Dalloway’s, in the Elmwood area, I’d overheard the owner attempt to help a fussy customer, a woman of about my age. This customer picked up the recommended novel and peered at it suspiciously. “Does it dart around in time? Is it hard to keep track of? Are there too many characters?”
"Well, you do have to pay attention," said the owner.
The customer tipped the book back onto the table. No thanks.
This table of newly released novels appeared to be jam packed with historical fiction - just like in stores at home. I’m afraid that as soon as I spot a sentence like: ‘Napoleon picked up the creased linen napkin and dabbed at the crumbs lodged at the side of his mouth...’ I start to hyperventilate.
“No he didn’t!” I want to shout.
I guess I’m a literal sort of person.

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Ann Ireland

Ann Ireland is the author of A Certain Mr. Takahashi, The Instructor and Exile. Her most recent novel is The Blue Guitar. She lives in Toronto.

Go to Ann Ireland’s Author Page