Saturday, March 03, 2007

Coincidental Circumstances

Life is so often filled with the strangest coincidences that for a skeptic like me, who believes that there is no such thing as a grand plan for any of us, the unexpected intersections that occur out of the infinite possibilities of life are endlessly amazing. For reasons which I fail to remember at the moment (and probably never will), about a month ago, I decided I wanted a collection of essays written by David Foster Wallace and added both A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster to my wish list on

Then a few days ago, while on a business trip to Baltimore (that sounds so sophisticated, doesn’t it – “business trip”, ha, ha) I went into the most beautiful Barnes & Noble bookstore I’ve ever seen. Initially, I went in to just look around but, since I can’t go into a bookstore without leaving with something in my hand, I decided that it would be a good time to get a few things from my wish list. After an hour or so of browsing (for such a large bookstore, its selection was fairly poor), I finally went in search of David Foster Wallace. With a little assistance from a Barnes & Noble saleswoman, I found the last copy of A Supposedly Fun Thing on the shelf, its edges wrinkled and looking rather pitiful.

In any case, as I often do, at the last minute I decided I just didn’t feel like spending $13.95 on Mr. Wallace. Instead, I bought a romance novel I don’t care to name, The Best American Science Writing 2006, and Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention to my posts, and I’m wise enough to know that no one actually does, but if you have, you’d know that it was only a few weeks ago that I admitted to not being able to get though Mr. Rakoff’s previous book Fraud. In fact, I said some very disparaging things about him. I believe I may have called him something in the way of “an un-funny, less-talented David Sedaris rip-off.” But, if you remember that, you’ll also remember I said that, after having read Mr. Rakoff’s selection in TBA Nonrequired Reading, the excellent “Love It or Leave It”, I’d decided that perhaps Mr. Rakoff deserved a second chance. Since I was unaware that Mr. Rakoff had already come out with a new selection of essays, when I saw Don’t Get Too Comfortable on the shelf, I snatched it up and clutched it to my chest all the way to the check-out line.

That still, however, left me David Foster Wallace-less. But, wait! Unbeknownst to me, a coincidence was right around the corner. That coincidence happened today when, after an attack of cabin fever, I went on a wandering stroll around my neighborhood, vaguely in search of some food and some trouble to get into. Unfortunately, my radar for trouble always seems to lead me into bookstores, which I guess, if you’re my wallet, could actually be considered trouble. In any case, my feet inexplicably led me to Idle Time Books, a cute little used bookshop that, unfortunately, opened up a few years ago. I say unfortunately, because the last thing I need is a used bookstore within walking distance from my home.

As usual, I was drawn in by the sale books they always set outside on nice days like today. Browsing the .50 cent box of throw-away books found me a wonderfully ratty edition of five Euripides plays, three of which I don’t already have in my collection. And since I had to go in to purchase the book, well, I figured I might as well browse and see what else there was to see, right? Right.

So, I looked around, picked-up and put back down Alice Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (I’m not really into Munro but I love the title of that book), found nothing in the travel literature section, picked up and put back down P.D. James’ The Lighthouse (eh, maybe another day), and then finally, I looked to my right, glancing over at a few books displayed at the top of a shelf and what do I see? Oh, come on, I’m sure you can guess – that’s right, David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing!

It appeared as if the book gods were smiling down on me with favor this day. Three days ago, I’d balked at paying $13.95 for a novel I wanted and now, here it was, in a used bookstore, as crisp and as clean as the day it rolled off the press, and half the price! Sure, I got a few odd glances when I let out of squeal of delight and danced a little jig right there in the store but I didn’t care (truthfully, no one else did either. I’m sure they all assumed I was a part of the odd Halloween grocery cart relay race that was taking place outside. I have no idea what it was or why it was happening, so don’t ask).

Naturally, I purchased the book ($7.50 - beat that Barnes & Noble! Ha, ha.) along with my Euripides, of course, and grinned all the way home. These days are the days when I love being alive. The clouds part, the sun shines, you leave in search of adventure, and return home with some good books, and an extra seven dollars in your pocket. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t get any better than that, I don’t care what anyone says.

No comments: