A Postcard From Purgatory

on Thursday, October 4, 2012
The abandoned husk of a Borders megastore languishes beside the highway, a sad portent of things once to come, now a grim reality.

Wait, let me start again.

It has been six days, four hours and twenty eight minutes since I last visited a bookstore; the longest I have ever gone without. My worst nightmare has come true. I am in a city with no literary soul. If once there was one, it has long since been exorcised. For this weary traveller, Detroit exemplifies the worst possible outcome of late 90s scorched earth commercial expansion - the establishment of huge barns that crushed the small indie sellers and then, when economic clouds began to stir, closed down leaving entire areas bereft of books. It's quite astounding. There are pretty much no bookstores to be found unless you are willing to turn to one of the great "white knights" of middle America, Barnes & Noble (which still has a strong, albeit soulless presence) or just give up altogether and hit Amazon. It is a sad, sad state of affairs.

Yet a bit of research suggests that all is not completely lost. There are a couple around if I'm willing to drive for a while. I guess I have no choice. But I won't have the joy of walking along any random street and stumbling upon a trove of hidden bookish treasure. God I love Melbourne.

This is the sound of a reader in despair.


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