“The problem with espousing hatred of gay people and darkly suggesting they “shouldn’t exist”? It creates problems for homophobes.”

Full explication/evisceration at Julian Sanchez’ “place”:http://juliansanchez.com/notes/archives/2007/02/whys_he_gotta_go_making_life_h.php.

Indies under fire

by Henry on February 16, 2007

Charlie Cray forwarded me a link to this forthcoming “documentary”:http://www.indiesunderfire.com/index.html on the demise of independent bookstores and the rise of chains. This is something that I have more ambiguous feelings about than many lefty academics. On the one hand, there are independent bookstores in DC and elsewhere that I love, cherish, and try to shop in whenever I get a chance. But on the other, I grew up in a small town without a bookshop of any description whatsoever, a place which was a little like Penelope Fitzgerald’s “Hardborough”:http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/09/07/reviews/970907.07cunning.html?_r=1&oref=slogin before Ms Green arrives. A couple of times a year I would go to Fred Hanna’s when we visited relatives in Dublin, but the rest of the time I relied on what I could get from the local library or the small rack of paperbacks at the local newsagent. I’d have killed for a chain bookstore somewhere close by, and I find it hard to imagine that my teenage equivalent somewhere out there in the heartland today wouldn’t feel the same way.

There is something being lost as independent bookstores close; a lot of valuable, local knowledge possessed by smart, book-obsessed employees who could give good leads on other books that you ought to read if you liked or were interested in _x_. But the increase in choice provided by the spread of chains (and the Internet) to places that were badly served in the past isn’t to be discounted either. What is a more unalloyed tragedy in my eyes (and not only mine; I think I’m stealing this claim from Teresa Nielsen Hayden) is the demise of the kind of variegated paperbook rack in the newsagent/drugstore that got me reading in the first place. These mixed together bestsellers, unabashed junk, and all sorts of other obscure, semi-obscure and eccentric books. They got me hooked on reading. My impression is that these racks aren’t out there any more, in either Ireland or the US – the places that had them have either gotten rid of them altogether, or only use them to sell the same five or six bestsellers that everyone else is selling.