When MCB decided to start a blog on the Minneapolis literary scene, there were already a lot of ideas on the cybernetic table. One that seemed particularly thrilling was the possibility of a citywide book store tour. Marooned in Uptown last Saturday by a companion’s haircut (no explanation necessary), MCB was left to roam the area for a good twenty minutes, which was the perfect opportunity to turn the tables on MCB’s companion and spend forty minutes at Booksmart, currently on Hennepin between Lake and Lagoon. MCB had been thinking about starting the Minneapolis Book Store Tour for several days and was downright jubilant at the opportunity, especially since MCB’s companion generally spends their time in book stores following MCB around and groaning about how long MCB is taking.
It was MCB’s second time at Booksmart, and it would be dramatic to say it was the last, but who doesn’t love a little drama now and then.
It should be mentioned that aside from MCB’s companion, MCB was also accompanied by an Incapacitated Female Friend1. This turned out to be to MCB’s benefit in reviewing Booksmart, as MCB was feeling a little disorganized, as MCB always does amongst the smell of old paper and pine shelving.
MCB would like to reconstruct the conversation:
IFF: Should I get a book?
IFF: I’m looking for something to read.
MCB: Of course.
IFF: I could just borrow that book you have. The one about the lobster2.
MCB: Paige has it.
IFF: Oh, sad.
IFF: Well… maybe I should get a book.
MCB: What kind of book are you looking for?
IFF: I like a book that tells a story.
MCB: So you’re looking for a novel?
IFF: Yes, a novel.
MCB: What do you like?
IFF: Um… I kind of like… stuff like… Latin American stuff. You know, from Latin American countries.
MCB: Say no more.
After a quick jaunt over to the fiction section, MCB was crushed to find out that Booksmart did not have a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude. MCB really wanted IFF to read that book, and MCB doesn’t remember the last time a book store didn’t have a copy.
MCB: They don’t have it.
IFF: Oh, sad.
MCB: I know another book that you’d love, though. It’s not Latin American. It’s not even from a Spanish speaking country. But you’ll love it. Everyone does.
Maybe MCB was feeling in some way obligated to winners of the Nobel Prize, as if they somehow needed more publicity, or maybe MCB just wanted to find a book that every book store seems to have, but once again, MCB was dismayed at the absence of Blindness, by José Saramago. What made the situation even worse, however, was that not only was there no Blindness3, but there weren’t any titles by Saramago—and Saramago has a lot of titles.
MCB: I give up. You can just borrow something of mine.
IFF: Oh, sad.
MCB. I know, right?
Out of curiosity—suddenly shaken from the aforementioned disorganized stupor—MCB looked for a handful of other authors. No David Foster Wallace (in the fiction section—Booksmart did have a copy of Consider the Lobster on a shelf by the front door). No Anne Carson. MCB approached the counter to inquire whether or not MCB might simply be overlooking these authors, but before MCB could ask a question MCB was met with a scowl so unwelcoming that MCB turned around and went back to the fiction section. This was the moment in which MCB simply surrendered to the notion that Booksmart just wasn’t going to have anything MCB was looking for—and that’s when MCB finally understood Booksmart.
Booksmart isn’t one of those stores where one looks for a book—at least not a specific book. It’s where one finds a book, unexpectedly. The majority of Booksmart’s floor space is taken up by large tables marked “New Arrivals – Friday” or “New Arrivals – Saturday” or whatever days of the week make up the most recent past. This is where one should look when one shops at Booksmart—again, not for a specific title, but for anything that catches one’s eye and has on its back cover the right price. Here MCB saw Hemingways, Faulkners, a Kundera (which MCB snatched up), as well as Palahniuks, a Steadman, Klostermans, a scourge of Sedaris, and way too many Rands for MCB’s comfort. This is why Minneapolitans should come to Booksmart, particularly if you’re interested in finding something you weren’t looking for. Don’t take your friends here and try to recommend books they should buy. That only makes bibliophiles look like fools.
Uncommitted book lovers should know that Booksmart will be moving next month to Cheapo’s old location, just across the street from the Lagoon Theatre. MCB will be visiting them again, after the move, to check out the new space.
The Minneapolis Book Store Tour will continue over the next several weeks, visiting non-specialty book stores all over the city, and will be followed up by the Saint Paul Book Store Tour. Feel free to recommend any places that MCB absolutely cannot miss.
1: She’d hurt her foot somehow. We’re not talking crutches—just a slight limp hinting of some kind of depravity, or at least it would seem that way on an IFF who wasn’t so cute and bubbly.
2: Here MCB is revealing the already painfully obvious influence on MCB’s journalistic style. Readers should be aware that this will soon exorcise itself. MCB appreciates your patience.
3: Maybe MCB just didn’t see it. Ha, ha. Ha.