Leonard Cohen Was Right!

on Sunday, October 7, 2012
Rejoice, fellow booknerds. My whingefest is over!

Just when I was ready to give up on this city, I happened upon the one crack that, to borrow from my favourite troubadour, lets the light in. Sure, I had to drive forty minutes to get there. And it is a second hand bookstore not a cool indie that peddles new, exciting literature. But salvation is salvation and I, for one, am damn happy about it.

Motte & Bailey in Ann Arbor is the kind of place that makes you believe in the magic of labyrinths. The sheer magnitude of the collection and the way it is 'organised' is enough to make the Collyer brothers seem like minimalists. Books occupy every conceivable space, including the cashier island in the middle. Walk one way, trip over books. Walk the other, they fall on your head. This was true heavenly clutter.

To add to my joy, the owner is a burly grizzly bear who knows every single item in his stock. He loves to chat books and was pleased to find this customer starving for such reparte. We bonded over our mutual love for E. L. Doctorow, laughed with disdain at Chuck Palahniuk and hedged our collective bets on David Foster Wallace.

I walked out totally reinvigorated, with a signed first addition of Doctorow's Book of Daniel to boot. It even steeled me up to visit a Barnes & Noble the next day where they didn't have a single book on my shopping list but did have a new Kurt Vonnegut book containing the late, great madman's first and last works. It is one of the best things I've read all year. All of this thanks to Motte & Bailey.

This is the sound of elation...


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