In Defense of Jaume Collet-Serra

It’s been two weeks since I attended a press screening for Unknown, and I am dilatory with my dispatch. But there’s been some distinctive quality about director Jaume Collet-Serra I’ve been trying to pin down. The hope here was that a few extra days of thinking would get me closer. After all, The Stranger‘s Paul Constant informed me that he received “drunken hate mail for weeks” after he praised Orphan – a movie that I also found to be fun and stylish and needlessly maligned by a few uptight critics.

But my interest quickly got out of hand. Now that I’ve seen all of Collet-Serra’s previous films (House of Wax, Goal 2, and Orphan), and I liked them all, I’m going to put forward the brazen suggestion that Jaume Collet-Serra may be another John Frankenheimer in the making. Like Frankenheimer, Collet-Serra includes several gradients of realist acting in his movies, however half-baked and unrealistic the scripts may be, to accentuate his more tasteful visual balance. Many of the complaints against House of Wax, for example, were leveled at Paris Hilton’s one-note acting (and I suspect that her overfrequent media presence in 2005 didn’t exactly help matters), but this severely discounted Elisha Cuthbert’s more realist performance and Brian Van Holt’s melodramatic double role. These complaints also weren’t especially fair when one considers Collet-Serra’s eye for the camera.

House of Wax: Certainly Collet-Serra’s background in commercials and music videos are largely responsible for this marvelous and unsettling opening sequence, in which we are introduced to a psychotic family. Notice the fine details contained within this montage. In the first shot, we see an older woman smoking her cigarette, the jasper angled askew and matching the wax bowl on the right. The table’s octagonal nature accentuates this psychology, especially since none of the hands or the cigarettes approach the table at a perpendicular angle. Then in the second shot, we see that the domestic scene is quite orderly. We see cereal poured into a bowl in a manner we might be familiar with. What’s unfamiliar here is the cigarette angled up in the air, neatly matching the arm clutching the cereal box. The milk bottle, with its smiling diagram, is also a nice touch, suggesting that some comical order or tranquility might be possible if you stick around long enough.

House of Wax: The camera, positioned very low, demonstrates that human life doesn’t matter much in Ambrose, the ghost town revealed to be a disturbing museum. We see a woman crawling beneath a pool table (underneath Ambrose’s “game”) in an effort to escape a mechanic who wants her to be part of this “museum.” Collet-Serra, who likes using shallow focus, makes the chair more prominent than the young woman. Even the lamp on camera left registers more than the woman.

Orphan: Believe it or not, this striking visual is a throwaway shot. Like Tony Scott, Collet-Serra has this tendency to offer a magnificent composition and cut it into a sequence for less than a second. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want people to know that he’s got the chops. Or perhaps we’re meant to investigate further with the pause button. What we see here is the Coleman family before Esther’s arrival. Daniel runs from camera left to camera right towards Max, deaf and holding a basketball. Aside from the clever way in which Collet-Serra intimates that this family is as solid as the house itself (with mom hidden behind the car and Max very slightly occluded by the column), there’s also the muted burgundy (increasingly darker) from left to right: the car’s tail light, Daniel’s hood midway, and the basketball that Max is holding.

Orphan: Once Esther invades the family home, we see that, unlike the previous shot and unlike the Coleman stability, her face cannot be hidden by any architectural detail. She stares at the piano with materialistic delight. The back window tries to illuminate the situation to the Colemans (“Hey, family! You may have taken in a murderous little girl! Look around”), all clustered in the dark and too ensnared by domestic bliss to see what’s in front of them. And just as Collet-Serra placed the milk bottle on the table in the House of Wax opening sequence, we see that he’s placed an almost hexagonal vase on camera left.

Orphan: This is one of my favorite shots in the movie. Who knew that Rock Band could portray a fragmented family? We see the boys having a grand old time tapping notes on the left. Meanwhile, the Old World girl with the old dress is inveigling her way in at the right. Again, Collet-Serra is careful to include a window near center frame, with its shaft of light trying to convey to the family that Esther is bad news. You wouldn’t know from the jagged diagonal staircase and the slightly incongruous textures that the production designer here was the same guy behind Blue Crush.

* * *

Unknown, Collet-Serra’s fourth feature film, from a screenplay by Oliver Butcher & Stephen Cornwell, based on a novel by Didier van Cauweleart, is well directed. Like Collet-Serra’s previous films, the cinematography is symmetrically stellar, its use of split focus reminiscent of early Brian DePalma (there’s one great shot where a body is being dragged away on camera right, while another body stays recumbent is on camera left) and a car chase shot with an idiosyncratic claustrophobia (many of the shots are confined inside the vehicle, but we don’t get too many driver’s perspective angles). The acting, especially by Bruno Ganz as a former Stasi man, is surprisingly realistic. The script contains an improbable series of coincidences (nearly every character is part of the conspiracy!) and a very forgiving German police force (if you carjack a taxi from an airport, I’m pretty sure the authorities aren’t just going to let you drive away). But Collet-Serra’s pacing is, for a good stretch of Unknown, so classy and so relaxing that I became more forgiving with these lapses in story logic.

Before seeing Unknown, it had never occurred to me that Liam Neeson was filling in the role once occupied by Harrison Ford. Ford, now a doddering and growling caricature of his former self, once charmed movie audiences as the forceful Everyman we could relate to. The whole “Get off my plane!” business was the point of no return for Ford. But before that, Ford was the star of The Fugitive and Frantic, playing a very believable middle-aged man on the run.

I’m certainly not the only person to have found Neeson’s recent reinvention as an action star to be somewhat peculiar. While this very tall slim actor can’t drift from his slightly Americanized Irish brogue to save his life, he has carried notable authority in Schindler’s List, Michael Collins, and Rob Roy.

But Neeson is also very good at melodrama. Most people forget that Sam Raimi made a marvelous comic book movie called Darkman starring Neeson in the title role. There’s a very fun scene in which Neeson is confronting a carnie over a pink elephant, and Neeson plays it so perfectly over-the-top: his voice grating with a gravelly bark, his face spasmodic (thanks to the limited time Darkman has wearing the “Neeson face” in daylight). While Collet-Serra doesn’t quite go off the glorious deep end the way that Raimi did in Darkman, one sees something close to this quality in Unknown, when Dr. Martin Harris is trying to persuade people that he is the genuine article.

Consider this question. Twenty years ago, if you had been told a video store clerk that Sam Raimi (director of Evil Dead 2) and Peter Jackson (director of Dead Alive) would be directing some of the most successful Hollywood movies of all time, you would have been laughed out of the store.

Unknown is enjoyable, but it does see Collet-Serra playing it a bit safe. But if Sam Raimi can serve us the gloriously vivacious jazz club scene in Spider-Man 3, then perhaps Collet-Serra’s visual panache will branch out in intriguing directions.

The Bad Prose Reading Project #1 (“Disinterested Thrusting”)

Every now and then, you encounter prose so wonderfully preposterous that it feels quite a crime not to share it with other appreciative readers. Some, of course, confine this morbid pleasure to the Bad Sex in Fiction Award handed out yearly by the Literary Review. (How easy it is for us to confront bad prose when it’s being declared “bad” by an independent authority!) Others test their mincing mettle by contributing their own exemplars to the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest.

But as we all know, the best bad prose isn’t always planned. It’s written and discovered by accident.

With all these factors in mind, I offer The Bad Prose Reading Project, where I will be offering audio dramatizations of any bad prose I discover during my reading adventures.

During the course of these dramatizations, I won’t actually name the author, the story, or the novel that I’m reading. I feel this is fair to those who may judge the prose to be excellent. Needless to say, if I’m dramatizing it, it’s probably been published somewhere in the last few months. But that’s also part of the fun. Perhaps in dramatizing “bad” prose, the oral delivery may transform it into “good” prose because my dramatization is “bad.” Or perhaps I’m overthinking the experiment.

In any event, I invite listeners to judge the results. The first installment of The Bad Prose Reading Project features the phrase “disinterested thrusting” and can be listened to below.

Bad Prose Reading Project #1 (“Disinterested Thrusting”) (Download MP3)

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Review: Of Gods and Men (2010)

Xavier Beuavois’s Of Gods and Men is a film so boring that it threatened to put me to sleep at least three times during its interminable 122 minutes. I have nothing in particular against the monastic life or unexpected political collisions or trying to understand why people remain inflexible when given clear mortal consequences in resisting common sense or the Trappists or the Algerians or films that are slow and long and, yes, even boring. Indeed, the film’s premise — based on the real-life assassination of seven monks who refused to leave Tibhirine in 1996 when terrorists entered their inner sanctum — is a fascinating one.

But this film ain’t Tarkovsky or Antonioni. The problem here — and I do realize this snoozefest has won the Grand Prix, along with unchecked fellatio from the film snob brigade; knock yourselves out — may be that Beuavois has so insisted on uncompromising authenticity (even going to the trouble of basing one shot around a shaky home video), of lining up every damn narrative moment to some scrap of a fact, that there’s little wiggle room to explore any discrepancies. These people lived, for fuck’s sake. And they were braver and more committed than most of us. I’m not necessarily against such orthodox recreation of reality, but it’s often most interesting when given a new context or a new framework that permits us to feel something. When Christian Marclay asks us to rethink images of clocks, as Art Fag City’s Will Brand recently suggested, he’s asking us, in breaking his own rules, to wonder if the viewing experience is too easy. What the hell is Beuavois asking us to do? By producing such a tepid timewaster, he encouraged me to walk out at several points and read a book on the subject. Alas, it was only my own stubborn self-discipline to sit through every damn minute that compelled me to stay. I am now writing a bitter review that vitiates the noble obduracy of the Trappist monks. And I feel terrible about it. But I cannot give this film a fair pass. It feels so trite in comparison to Wisconsin or Algeria or Libya or any other clusterfuck I could get sucked down when chasing the headlines.

The problem may be that I’m a reader and many of the film people who accept this malarkey as art are often not seen holding a book. I mean, even Ann Patchett’s melodramatic novel, Bel Canto, has more going on than Of Gods and Men. Beuavois seems to have avoided any deep or insightful investigation of the kind of temperament it takes to carry on with your low-key existence as terrorists abscond with your provisions and beat up on the people you’re trying so desperately to help. That kind of moral predicament should contain some element of horror. Is that too much of a concession to conventional narrative exigencies? Perhaps. While there is certainly some resistance to the decision to stay, and there is definitely a united front on the question, if the narrative intent here is to mimic what it feels like to be bullied, then I submit to the filmmakers that, no matter how tough or committed you are to a life of avoidance, you will still feel some modest trauma or shock. It’s certainly interesting that the monks here choose ritual as a panacea.

The film does looks beautiful. Shafts of light cascade against crumbling walls in need of new paint. There’s a quiet dignity in the way these monks share a meager meal — with one remarkably indigent celebration just before the monks concede to the inevitable, Swan Lake playing in the background and tearful eyes, that achieves a cinematic poignancy I’d be hard-pressed to dismiss. And I very much liked the way Beuavois shot many of these monks with the backs of their heads to the camera, a subtle visual suggestion conveying to the audience that we may very well be invading their holy lives.

But to get to these moments, one has to sit through a squirm-inducing concatenation of slow stretches. Endless and not especially sophisticated dialogue about how a love for God replaces a love for women. And so forth.

With so much attention to ornate aesthetics, I kept wondering why I felt damn near nothing for these monks. They receive letters and visits from the concerned. But they answer that they didn’t come to Algeria for personal interest and that there remains some circumstances in which men will not carry out evil. Stubbornness is an intriguing quality to contemplate, but up to a point. These dead monks demand more than technical recreation in order for us to feel.

The Sheltering Sky (Modern Library #97)

(This is the fourth entry in the The Modern Library Reading Challenge, an ambitious project to read the entire Modern Library from #100 to #1. Previous entry: The Postman Always Rings Twice)

When I first discovered the names Kit, Port, and Tunner, my mind instantly concluded that these must be debauched head honchos for some baleful corporate defense firm. This was then followed by a few inescapable jokes that I delivered to walls of books when nobody was around: Tunner getting Kit’s kit off, Port in a storm, and so forth. I am sad to report that the tomes offered no laughs or kind titters in return. Neither, for that matter, did my copy of The Sheltering Sky: a grim and largely humorless volume that did an impressive job filling about six hours of my life with a stupendous sense of dread. (I feel dreadful just remembering the experience of reading this book, even though I simultaneously recognize the book’s virtues and now see just how much Dan Simmons was channeling Bowles with his excellent debut novel, Song of Kali.)

It was especially interesting to see sundry uprisings break out in Africa shortly after I reached the end. It was almost as if world events were responding to my reading decisions! I suppose such a sentiment, however fleeting or half-formed, makes me a smug and clueless First World type. And I apologize to the Libyans, the Egyptians, and the Algerians for this. I cannot help the way my mind careens down certain paths. But then, unlike Kit, Port, and Tunner, I would never venture into unknown territory without bona-fide curiosity, a genuine sense of adventure, and, most importantly, a sense of collective inclusion. At least that’s what I’d like to think.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Sheltering Sky, it follows Port and Kit Moresby (impossible not to smile at the blunt accumulative connotation of this surname, eh? especially with the vapid type of American who, failing to see the magic within the “mundane,” mews out “More!” when asked about future plans and wonders years later why she’s so lonely and unfulfilled), a married couple who, presented with ravaged postwar home turf (both New York and Europe by natural extension), set out to Africa — in large part because they hope to find terrain untouched by global conflict. They are accompanied by Tunner, who isn’t quite as smart as the Moresbys. (“A bore, a bore, a bore!” whispers Port under his breath to Kit when Tunner is in the other room.) But one wonders if Kit and Port are really all that smart to begin with. At one point, when Port is remembering his reasons for the initial hegira, he compares himself to a pioneer: “he felt more closely identified with his great-grandparents, when he was rolling along out here in the desert than he did sitting at home looking out over the reservoir in Central Park.” A grand patriarchal tradition? Even so, Port is willing to travel to a rotting hotel in Ain Krorfa, and his initial check-in features some of the most remarkable putrescence I am likely to read in this Modern Library Reading Challenge:

The fountain which at one time had risen from the basin in the center of the patio was gone, but the basin remained. In it reposed a small mountain of reeking garbage, and reclining on the sides of the mountain were three screaming, naked infants, their soft formless bodies troubled with busting sores. They looked human there in their helpless misery, but somehow not quite so human as the two pink dogs lying on the tiles nearby — pink because long ago they had lost all their hair, and their raw aged skin lay indecently exposed to the kisses of the flies and the sun.

Now I don’t know about you. But my instinct when presented with such a scene — especially if I had a wife carrying all manner of trinkets and dresses, who was not exactly fond of the long-standing pilgrimage — would be to get the hell out of there. Yet Kit and Port stay. Two pages later, they’re eating soup with weevils, “sitting over coffee and waving away flies.” Kit himself pines for the sun. Never mind that he’s just seen what the flies and the sun do to these poor dogs. Not long after that, Port asks Kit the preposterous question, “Do you think you can be happy here?” After some pressing, Kit replies, “How can I tell? It’s impossible to get into their lives, and know what they’re actually thinking.”

Yet it’s very possible for us to get inside the Moresby heads and know what they’re actually thinking. Journeying for them is almost a hollow religion, one stumbled upon because there is little else to do. In the book’s early pages, Kit says, “The people of each country get more like the people of every country. They have no character, no beauty, no ideals, no culture — nothing, nothing.” With kvetching like that, one wonders the conversational industry it would it take to get these folks exploring Lake Victoria in a canoe.

In other words, these characters are selfish jerks who, unlike Sebastian Dangerfield or George Minafer, don’t invite further curiosity into their motivations. “You’re never humanity,” snaps Port to Kit at one point, “you’re only your poor hopelessly isolated self.” Yet Port considers himself to be clued in. And if that means heading down a dicey staircase to partake of a courtesan or rudely ringing for tea at an ungodly hour, that’s what he’ll do to get into the lives of others. Only a few pages into the book, Bowles tells us that Port considers himself a traveler rather than a tourist, with the distinction “moves slowly, over periods of years, from one part of the earth to another.” But slowing down in life doesn’t necessarily make you any more receptive than some caffeinated jackal flitting through on a bus (or, in the case of Kit and Port later, using their privileged positions to flee by bus and evade responsibility). The other important distinction, Bowles reports, is that, while the tourist accepts his own civilization without question, the traveler “compares [the new civilization] with the others, and rejects those elements he finds not to his liking.” And yet Port’s “comparison” involves the same superiority practiced by a tourist, such as the moment when he tells a lie about his wife being very sick to buy two bus seats:

He watched the Arab’s face closely, to see if he were capable of believing such an obvious lie. Apparently here it was as logical for an ailing person to go away from civilization and medical care as to go in the direction of it, for the Arab’s expression slowly changed to one of understanding and sympathy.

Now I have no problem with depressing books. I like to be moved to tears as much as I enjoy a few laughs. But when I read about Port, a spoiled American who absconds with common sense when a passport has been lost, and Kit, a spoiled American who commits adultery while her husband is traveling with two insufferable imperialists (the Lyles), and when she ventures into a fourth-class carriage, only to “shake violently” upon her return, and when none of these people can be straight about their feelings (Bowles often has his characters, especially Kit, “talking” in thoughts and words), I have zero sympathy. Still, I suppose it’s somewhat useful to be reminded that passive-aggressive deceit flourished just as much in 1949 as it does in 2011.

As I became more acquainted with this pampered ternion while turning the pages of Paul Bowles’s alleged masterpiece (“It stands head and shoulders above most other novels published in English since World War II,” reports The New Republic on my edition; it’s good for long stretches, but I beg to differ with this hyperbole), I found myself greatly pining for their deaths so that Bowles could continue his indefatigable duties describing the grand North African tableau, with its slanting landscapes and microscopic tents seen through grimy windows. Even the work of Frederic Prokosch, a now regrettably forgotten writer who was working the same beat (see The Seven Who Fled and The Asiatics) and who, like Bowles, favored ornate prose over dimensional character, speaks more on the subject of behavioral nuance.

My initial interest in Bowles’s characters flagged considerably by the time I had reached the second part, especially since Bowles shifted such supporting figures as the Bou Noura lieutenant d’Armagnac — a man who appeared to have more adamantine problems than these three entitled nincompoops:

During the third night of of her imprisonment a gray scorpion, on its way along the earthen floor of her cell, discovered an unexpected and welcome warmth in one corner, and took refuge there. When Yamnia stirred in her sleep, the inevitable occurred. The sting entered the nape of her neck; she never recovered consciousness. The news of her death quickly spread around the town, with the detail of the scorpion missing from the telling of it, so that the final and, as it were, official native version was that the girl had been assaulted by the entire garrison, including the lieutenant, and thereafter conveniently murdered.

Perhaps that passage is a wry reflection upon how difficult it is to convey an apparently exotic experience through narrative. Inevitably, your sense of a place or a person is bound to be vitiated and/or embroidered in the telling.

It’s probably worth pointing out that Bowles — in a letter to his wife Jane (a great writer in her own right) contained in the epistolary collection, In Touch — had planned to kill off Port halfway through the book: “He lingers on in agony instead of dying. But I’ll get rid of him yet, I assure you. Once he’s gone there’ll be only the heroine left to keep things going, and that won’t be easy. Still, it’s got to be that way; there’s no other possible design for it.”

On the other hand, the novel’s obvious conclusive crack about “the end of the line” — belaboring the distinction between “tourist” and “traveler” — made me feel more than a bit conned.

Still, I’m relieved that my understanding of Paul Bowles has become more sophisticated, if only because, up till now, I carried around a superficial understanding. Before The Sheltering Sky, I had not read Bowles. And I had long associated Bowles’s work with the glorious tuft of Debra Winger’s muff. That revelation may earn me a few detractors, but I must be candid. The truth is the truth. I like muffs. And I like Debra Winger (though certainly not just for her muff). You see, Bernardo Bertolucci tried to film the unfilmable back in 1990. And in a largely unsuccessful effort to spice things up, he gave us Ms. Winger’s delightful fur, Amina Annabi’s flesh, and John Malkovich’s hilarious hair. Other than these moments, the film is quite soporific. Even Bowles, in the introduction to a paperback edition, confessed that the film was “a fatal mess.” (Bowles, who also appeared in Bertolucci’s film, may have been sour because, according to a very bad hagiography* written by Virginia Spencer Carr, Bowles didn’t see a dime in royalties beyond the original $5,000 he received for selling the movie rights in 1952. Hurray for Hollywood! Perhaps this explains his appearance in the film. On the other hand, in an October 9, 1989 letter to Regina Weinreich, Bowles writes, “I like all three of the leads, and particularly Debra Winger, whom I go to visit often at her house on the Mountain.”)

That gossip may not accentuate your reading experience, but it does suggest very highly that, unlike Bowles’s fictional trio, Debra Winger is more of a traveler than a tourist.

Next Up: William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice!

Related Link: A Million Grains of Sand — a helpful index to The Sheltering Sky created by Frances McConihe.

* — How bad is Carr’s Paul Bowles: A Life? Very bad. Try this: “Bowles’s insistence that he never made plans and that his actions depended unfailingly upon who came along confirms his reluctance to be an initiator of anything, regardless of the act in question.” No skepticism whatsoever? No effort to confirm Bowles’s statements against other sources? The back flap of the hardcover I checked out from the library features a smiling Carr hunched on her elbow with a decidedly unhale Bowles in bed. The message here, undoubtedly subconscious, couldn’t be any clearer.

The Bat Segundo Show: Adrian Tomine

Adrian Tomine appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #382. He is most recently the author of Scenes from an Impending Marriage.

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Attempting to reconcile the impending with illustrations depicting events from years ago.

Author: Adrian Tomine

Subjects Discussed: Doing time in Sacramento, veiling a personal experience with a sex change, which of Tomine’s characters is least like him, the liberation that comes in fabrication, scratched out names and Victorian literature, the original small audiences for Scenes and 32 Stories, the father’s fund, taking criticisms to heart, the drawbacks of working in the same realist vein, Tomine’s wife as the “first audience,” the artist’s fragile ego, the influence of printed literature and storytelling upon art, humbling versions of inspiration, Tomine’s degrees of aspiration and ambition, living a life in service to the drawing, facing the world, the “strenuous” exigencies of cartoonists, drawing panels without decor, Tomine’s perfectionist qualities, the freedom in pursuing work that isn’t going to be reviewed, feeling highly scrutinized, the pleasure in publishing harsh letters, the look of the ranger, using the fewest lines to get the maximum amount of detail, settling upon the three panel approach, maintaining a private style in secret scrapbooks, varying levels of creative insulation from the public, the very low frequency of sound words, the tongue licking in “Alter Ego,” seeing external details that other characters cannot, the grotesque reality of Chris Ware’s furry cats, the number of people who read books in Tomine’s New Yorker illustrations, the Venn diagram between 1990s subcultures and digital culture, disappearing subcultures, cartoonists who detest hippie and hipster culture, gesture and look, Alison Bechdel’s elaborate photographic process, and the pursuit of “realism” in an “unreal” medium.


Correspondent: I wanted to get into the ineluctable autobiographical angle through a different mechanism. Interviewers, critics — they’ve all said, “Oh, well, Tomine is totally autobiographical.” But here, you are tempting fate again with the subtitle of the book: “prenuptial memoir.”

Tomine: Right.

Correspondent: You mentioned in the introduction to 32 Stories that you “learned the useful trick of taking a personal experience and veiling it with a sex change or two.”

Tomine: Right.

Correspondent: So we have to talk about this. But I’m going to ask you: Which of your characters is least like you? How much of Scenes [From an Impending Marriage] emerged out of your reality? Or is there some liberation, so to speak, in the fabrication?

Tomine: Oh completely. I mean, everybody has been focusing on the autobiographical nature of this book and I think some of the promotional materials are talking about how it’s such a personal work or something. But I think in truth, in some ways — well, I wouldn’t say the least personal, but it’s certainly no more personal than the other books. And I think that definitely in the fictional stories, I feel a lot of the freedom that you refer to. And the flip side to that is there’s an inhibition that comes along with drawing yourself as the main character. And I think this book, this current one, is all definitely drawn from real experience, but very carefully edited and selected.

Correspondent: Yeah. Starting with the first story, where we see scratched out words of names and places and the like. Which, to my mind, didn’t necessarily mean privacy, but possibly meant an ode to the Victorian literature, where you have the first letter and the line long after that.

Tomine: Yeah. And also I think that this was the first time I just embraced the idea that this would be intended for as wide of an audience as possible. So it set up the ending, where I have the one swear word of the book scratched out too. So it doesn’t quite jump out as much as it would otherwise.

Correspondent: So wait a minute. I understood that this started out as something to be disseminated to wedding guests.

Tomine: Yes, that’s right.

Correspondent: Okay. So was it always intended for public consumption?

Tomine: No.

Correspondent: No.

Tomine: No. The original version that was slimmer. There were fewer pages. It was basically just Xeroxed and assembled. And it was meant to just be given out at the wedding. So the only audience was really going to be our close friends and family.

Correspondent: Well, this is interesting. Because 32 Stories came back in a third life, I suppose, by having that box of minicomics. And it seemed to me from the introduction that it also came about under a certain amount of duress. I’m wondering if people have to push you or kick you into getting things published these days. How does this come about?

Tomine: Well, I think that if someone really wanted to read between the lines and investigate. The dedication of this book explains a lot about why it’s now in stores. Because it’s dedicated to Nora, who’s my one-year-old daughter.

Correspondent: Aha! The father’s fund.

Tomine: Yeah, exactly. We know a lot of people are confused. They say that in the book you say your wife’s name is Sarah. Who’s this Nora that this book is dedicated to?

Correspondent: Your mistress, I thought.

Tomine: (laughs) Right. My Irish mistress.

Correspondent: (laughs) Yes.

Tomine: Yeah, my wife was actually joking about that and saying, “Nobody ever has an Irish mistress.” I mean, there were a lot of reasons that went into the decision to actually publish it. But if I’m honest, one of them would definitely be just a bit of that new father panic of “I’ve got a life that I’m responsible for other than mine now.” So that was part of the thought process. At the same time, there was also the element of just how off the beaten path this book was for me. And that was appealing. Because when I finished my previous book, and digested a lot of the reviews and the response, that it was really clear to me that whatever it is that I publish next had to be pretty different. I think people had their fill of that specific tone and that meticulous realistic style of drawing. I don’t think it was — well, I take — the criticisms of that I took to heart. Not that it was poorly done, but that I’d been putting out a lot of that in that same vein for a number of years. So I didn’t really have a plan of what I was going to do next. But then it was kind of a relief to me when I realized that I basically had a complete book just sitting in my sketchbook. And it was as dramatic of a change as I was looking for.

Correspondent: Well, we’ve brought up a number of things just in the first few minutes.

Tomine: Right. I derailed you.

Correspondent: No, no. It’s great. I love this. Working on art for money. Working on art for audience response. And then simultaneously mining from your own personal life to generate narratives that often take an immense amount of time. In the case of Shortcomings, four years. So this leads me to wonder whether there’s possibly a double-edged sword here, if you are revolving your creative process around what the audience is telling you. Clearly, you still read reviews.

Tomine: Yeah.

Correspondent: Clearly, there is an interest to stay in this business. Obviously. But on the other hand, the fact that this book, this latest volume, came from a safe place. Where you were almost buffered by the possibility of critics dissecting every little aspect of your work. I mean, how does this work? How do you gravitate between the two? Or is it all one unified theory here? So to speak.

Tomine: No. I think you touched on a lot of the things that were in my mind really. Because this wedding book was definitely the most breezy and loose and — a word that’s never applied to my work, but — fun. And I think it was because of what you’re talking about. The idea that it basically wasn’t meant to be published. And that no one but a handful of people that I knew and loved would be seeing it. And really, even though I knew the people at the wedding would be seeing it, the only real audience I had in mind when I was creating it was my wife, Sarah. A lot of it was just a question of not “Is this going to be a great strip?” or “Is this going to be beautifully drawn?” or anything like that. But just “Is this going to make her chuckle at the end of the day?”

Correspondent: So really she’s your first audience.

Tomine: For this, especially.

Correspondent: Do you see that being — she’s going to be your future audience? Her and Nora perhaps?

Tomine: Yeah.

Correspondent: I mean, how do you insulate yourself from the constant probing?

Tomine: Well, I mean, whether I like it or not, she’s going to be my first audience. Just as the nature of working at home, and her curiosity. When she scrolls through my studio each day, she does take a look at what I’m working on. But at least so far, it’s been a real asset to me. Because she’s more well-read than I am. She used to work in publishing. And she has editing experience. She also, along with that, knows the fine art of dealing with the fragile ego of the writer or the artist. And she also just has a really good sense of humor. And I think that she’s, if anything, encouraged me over the years to try and tap into that a little bit more in my work.

(Image: Sarah Brennan)

The Bat Segundo Show #382: Adrian Tomine (Download MP3)

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List of Independent Alternatives to Closed Borders Bookstores


On Wednesday morning, Borders announced that it would be filing for bankruptcy. As one of the first steps in bankruptcy proceedings, the nation’s second largest bookstore chain will be closing 200 of its stores and firing 6,000 of its 19,500 employees in the next few weeks.

It’s also worth pointing out that Borders has stiffed publishers for hundreds of millions of dollars. A recent Publishers Weekly breakdown reveals that Penguin Group (USA) is owed $41.1 million, Hachette is owed $36.9 million, Simon & Schuster is owed $33.8 million, Random House is owed $33.5 million, and HarperCollins is owed $25.8 million.

With thousands of jobs disappearing, hundreds of millions of dollars lost in bankruptcy limbo, and vital physical space possibly being taken up by other hands or converted into new retail areas that will have little to do with books, it would be a severe mistake to suggest that this won’t have a sizable impact on the book industry. On the other hand, now that the inevitable has occurred, the time has come to examine whether losing a Borders near you means losing the physical bookstore experience.

Laura Kuechenmeister, who handles events and marketing for the Albuquerque indie Bookworks, suggested in a recent blog post that it has become necessary for independents to work together to promote book culture. If the Borders closings represent an opportunity for the indies, then the moment has arrived for indies to serve as optimal community bookstores.

Yet it has been put forth by a few shortsighted pundits that “the space won’t come back.” Certainly many of the regular customers will shift to online spending and e-books. Sarah Weinman has proposed that the Borders closing represents the end of the chain bookstore era, suggesting that “we’ll look back and realize massive superstore chain bookstores were the subprime loans and credit default swaps of the publishing industry.”

In the next few years, booksellers will need to transform their operations in which physical space and community matters and those vital connections with customers become more personal and long-term. And the vital question we have to ask now is what the present bookstore grid looks like. As you can see from the list below, in most cases, there is an independent bookstore within ten miles from a closed Borders.

We should not discount the reality that some Borders closings will have a serious impact on communities, especially in rural areas within Colorado, Florida, and Ohio. Yet my investigations have also revealed that there are a great number of independent bookstores, often in unexpected areas. These independent bookstores are run not by faceless corporations, but passionate book lovers who very often read the books they stock. Their stock is, in most cases, almost exclusively physical books.

With digital book sales only making up 8.32% of the total book market (according to the latest AAP Publishers Repot), reports of the end of print books are greatly exaggerated.

In a USA Today article from last week, Fordham University marketing professor Albert Greco estimated that Borders has about 8.1% of the total book market. However, it’s worth pointing out that most of Borders’s 500 stores have opened up only in the last decade. How much of this 8.1% will move on to other physical bookstores? It is my hope that, in assembling this list, I have given that 8.1% share of the marketplace a very good reason to continue to support bookstores, especially those bookstores run by people who are interested in supporting the community.

Methodology: The list of 200 Borders bookstores was obtained from court records. I located the alternative bookstores using a variety of online sources (Indiebound, Yelp, Citysearch) and attempted to include independent bookstores that were favorably reviewed by customers. Mileage was calculated by ZIP Code. As of February 18, 2011, I have confirmed that all of the following bookstores all remain open for business. I have also eliminated the two Puerto Rico bookstores that are closing. Like the Hawaii situation, if a Borders store closes on an island, chances are that you’ll have to go for a swim to find an alternative. I encourage the readers to leave comments if there are independent bookstores that I have overloooked or if the information is inaccurate. I will happily amend the list to account for any late-stage crowdsourcing.

2/20/11 UPDATE: Thanks to all who have spread the link around and offered additional alternatives in both the comments and on Twitter. I have amended the list to reflect this input. Please be advised that the criteria involves bookstores that are close to a closing Borders. So if I have missed your favorite independent bookstore, it is probably because there were other bookstores that were closer to the closed Borders in question. Nevertheless, I have added all received suggestions. Please feel free to continue with the comments and I will offer another update.

7/19/11 UPDATE: As of Monday, July 18, 2011, Borders could not find a buyer. It will be closing all of its stores. In the next few weeks, I will be preparing a revised list incorporating these new stores, along with the data we have generated from this list. Thanks to all for your continued input.


Borders Bookstore #88
1100 E. Diamond Blvd., Anchorage, AK 99515
University of Alaska Bookstore, 2905 Providence Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508 (5.7 miles)
Title Wave Books, 1360 West Northern Lights, Anchorage, AK 99503 (5.8 miles)


Borders Bookstore #596
10100 W. McDowell Road, Avondale, AZ 85323
Thrifty Joe’s, 6020 W Bell Road, #E104, Glendale, AZ 85308 (12.0 miles)
Bookmans Phoenix, 8034 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85021 (12.1 miles)
Bent Cover Books, 12428 N. 28th Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85029 (12.6 miles)

Borders Bookstore #282
870 N. 54th Street, Chandler, AZ 85226
Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive, Tempe, AZ 85283 (6.3 miles)
Ecobooks, 227 E Baseline Road, Suite #J-5, Tempe, AZ 85283 (7.2 miles)
Red-Tail Books, 204 N Florence St, Casa Grande, AZ 85122 (Thanks, Dave)

Borders Bookstore #69
1361 S. Alma School Road, Mesa, AZ 85210
Bookmans Mesa, 1056 S. County Club Dr., Mesa, AZ 85210 (0.0 miles)
Those Were the Days, 628 N. Center Street, Mesa, AZ 85201 (2.9 miles)

Borders Bookstore #342
4555 East Cactus Road, Phoenix, AZ 85032
Book Krazy, 1601 East Bell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85022 (2.7 miles)
Bent Cover Books, 12428 N. 28th Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85029 (6.9 miles)
Bookmans Phoenix, 8034 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85021 (7.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #54
2402 E. Camelback Road, Suite 200, Phoenix, AZ 85016
Bards Books, 3508 N. 7th Street, #145, Phoenix, AZ 85014 (2.8 miles)
The Poisoned Pen, 4014 North Goldwater, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (5.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #641
7135 East Camelback Road, Space 140, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
The Poisoned Pen, 4014 North Goldwater, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (0.0 miles)
Bards Books, 3508 N. 7th Street, #145, Phoenix, AZ 85014 (6.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #538
7000 E. Mayo Blvd., Suite 1050, Scottsdale, AZ 85054
Book Krazy, 1601 East Bell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85022 (6.3 miles)
Pages, 7100 E Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek, AZ 85331 (10.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #18
4235 N Oracle Road, Tuscon, AZ 85705
Revolutionary Grounds, 606 N. 4th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85705 (0.0 miles)
Antigone Books, 411 North 4th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85705 (0.0 miles)
Bookmans, 3733 West Ina Road, Tucson, AZ 85741 (2.0 miles)
Bookmans, 1930 E. Grant Rd., Tucson, Arizona 86719 (6.9 miles) (Thanks, Matthew Garcia.)
Bookmans, 6230 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, Arizona 85712 (11.6 miles) (Thanks, Matthew Garcia.)


Borders Bookstore #318
2203 South 45th Street, Suite 12100, Rogers, AR 72758
Coffee Break Book Store, 955 N. Curtis Ave., Pea Ridge, AK 72751 (10.7 miles)
Nightbird Books, 205 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville, AR 72701 (17.3 miles)


Borders Bookstore #233
Alameda Towne Centre, 2245 South Shore Center, Alameda, CA 94501
Books Inc., 1344 Park St., Alameda, California 94501 (0.0 miles) (Thanks, Steve)
Wilmots Books, 478 Central Ave., Alameda, California 94501 (0.0 miles) (Thanks, Steve)
Kevin Patrick Books, 2170 Encinal Ave., Alameda, CA 94501 (0.0 miles) (Thanks, Alameda Annie)
Books Inc., 1344 Park Street, Alameda, CA 94501 (0.0 miles) (Thanks, Alameda Annie)
Tavistock Books, 1503 Webster Street Alameda, CA 94501 (0.0 miles) (Thanks, Steve)
Rebound Bookstore, 1611 4th Street, San Rafael, CA 94901 (0.0 miles)
Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925 (3.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #224
12741 Towne Center Drive, Cerritos, CA 90703
One Dollar Bookstore, 4661 Silva St., Lakewood, CA 90712 (5.3 miles)
BookTown USA, 2090 S. Euclid Street, Anaheim, CA 92802 (7.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #497
3833 Grand Avenue, Chino, CA 91710
Books Redux, 18508 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA 92886 (9.0 miles)
Bronco Bookstore, 3801 W. Temple Ave., Bldg. 66, Pomona, CA 91768 (9.0 miles)
Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop, 1030 Bonita Avenue, La Verne, CA 91750 (10.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #470
159 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon, CA 92020
Somewhere Else Coffeehouse & Bookstore, 330 South Magnolia, El Cajon, CA 92020 (0.0 miles)
Book Place, 6122 Lake Murray Blvd., La Mesa, CA 91942 (4.3 miles)
Readers Inc., 8219 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, CA 91941 (children’s bookstore)
The Yellow Book Road, 7200 Parkway Drive #118, La Mesa, CA (6.6 miles) (Thanks, Melissa Wiley)

Borders Bookstore #404
39210 Fremont Hub, Suite 211, Fremont, CA 94538
Towne Center Books, 555 Main Street, Pleasanton, CA 94566 (9.0 miles)
The Book Shop, 1007 B Street, Hayward, CA 94541 (9.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #149
100 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91204
Mystery & Imagination, 238 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91203 (0.9 miles)
Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027 (2.9 miles)
Stories, 1716 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026 (4.2 miles)

Borders Bookstore #527
1310 S. Beach Blvd., La Habra, CA 90631
Books N Bits, 11806 186th St., Artesia, CA 90701 (8.6 miles)
Books Redux, 18508 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA 92886 (9.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #139
2110 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90815
Open, 2226 East 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814 (3.0 miles)
One Dollar Bookstore, 4661 Silva St., Lakewood, CA 90712 (4.0 miles)
Secret Passages, 406 E. 3rd Street, Long Beach, CA 90802 (4.2 miles)

Borders Bookstore #690
101 South Pine Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802
Secret Passages, 406 E. 3rd Street, Long Beach, CA 90802 (0.0 miles)
Williams Bookstore, 443 West 6th Street, San Pedro, CA 90731 (2.7 miles)
Open, 2226 East 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814 (5.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #154
10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90067
The Mystery Bookstore, 1036 C Broxton Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024 (1.0 miles) (Closed, thanks Geo Ong)
UCLA Bookzone, 308 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (1.5 miles)
Alias Books, 1650 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025 (1.9 miles)
Diesel A Bookstore, 225 26th Street, Suite 33, Santa Monica, CA 90402 (Thanks Geo Ong)

Borders Bookstore #374
6081 Center Drive, Suite 118, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Zahara’s Books N Things, 900 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, CA 90312 (3.1 miles)
Pages, 904 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 (4.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #192
50 University Avenue, Suite 280, Los Gatos, CA 95030
Hicklebee’s, 1378 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose, CA 95125 (6.8 miles)
Leigh’s, 121 S. Murphy Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086 (10.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #243
12423 Limonite Ave., Mira Loma, CA 91752
DW Pages, 470 McKinley St., Corona, CA 92879 (5.5 miles)
Books Redux, 18508 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA 92886 (15.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #357
3900 Sisk Road, Modesto, CA 95356
Yesterday’s Books, 3457 McHenry Ave., Modesto, CA 95350 (3.3 miles)
Graham’s Books and More, 328 North Main Street, Angels Camp, CA 95221 (36.2 miles)
Mountain Bookshop, 13769-I Mono Way, Sonora, California 95370 (52.5 miles) (Thanks, John)

Borders Bookstore #105
5055 S. Plaza Lane, Montclair, CA 91763
Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop, 1030 Bonita Avenue, La Verne, CA 91750 (6.9 miles)
Bronco Bookstore, 3801 W. Temple Ave., Bldg. 66, Pomona, CA 91768 (7.7 miles)
Covina Book Store, 234 N. Citrus Ave, Covina, CA 91723 (13.7 miles) (Thanks, Lisa Hendrix)

Borders Bookstore #266
20 City Boulevard, W., Orange, CA 92868
Bookman, 840 N. Tustin St., Orange, CA 92867 (2.6 miles)
Compass Books, Downtown Disney, Anaheim, CA 92802 (3.0 miles)
BookTown USA, 2090 S. Euclid St., Anaheim, CA 92802 (3.8 miles)
Book Off, 2955 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92626 (7.9 miles)

Borders Bookstore #485
241 W. Esplanade Drive, Oxnard, CA 93030
Mr. Fig’s Bookworm, 93 East Daily Dr., Camarillo, CA 93010 (5.9 miles)
Abednego Book Shoppe, 2982 E. Main St., Ventura, CA 93003 (7.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #263
475 S. Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
Cliff’s Books, 630 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101 (0.0 miles)
Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101 (0.0 miles)
Covina Book Store, 234 N. Citrus Ave, Covina, CA 91723 (17.7 miles) (Thanks, Lisa Hendrix)

Borders Bookstore #576
8852 Washington Blvd., Pico Rivera, CA 90660
Nostalgic Books & Comics, 517 West Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801 (7.3 miles)
Books N Bits, 11806 186th Street, Artesia, CA 90701 (8.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #117
4575 Rosewood Drive, Pleasanton, CA 94588
Towne Center Books, 555 Main Street, Pleasanton, CA 94566 (3.8 miles)
Read Booksellers, 3630 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 9506 (6.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #523
550 Deep Valley Drive, Suite 261, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274
Williams’ Book Store, 443 West 6th Street, San Pedro, CA 90731 (5.2 miles)
Dave’s Olde Book Shop, 2123 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach, CA 90278 (7.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #362
668 6th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
Upstart Crow, 835 C West Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101 (0.0 miles)
Fifth Avenue Books, 3838 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103 (2.3 miles)
Bluestocking Books, 3817 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103 (2.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #57
400 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Books Inc., 601 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102 (0.0 miles)
Bibliohead Bookstore, 334 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 (0.0 miles)
City Lights, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133 (0.8 miles) (Thanks, @CityLightsBooks)

Borders Bookstore #605
845 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Books Inc., 601 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102 (0.7 miles)
Bibliohead Bookstore, 334 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 (0.7 miles)
Alexander Book Co., 50 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 (1.0 miles)
Green Apple Books, 506 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118 (2 miles) (Thanks, Pete Mulvihill)

Borders Bookstore #491
356 Santana Row, Suite 1030, San Jose, CA 95128
Hicklebee’s, 1378 Lincoln Ave., San Jose, CA 95125 (2.4 miles)
Leigh’s Favorite Books, 121 S. Murphy, Sunnyvale, CA 94086 (6.5 miles)
Recycle Bookstore, 1066 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126 (Thanks, Laurie Daugherty)
Recycle Bookstore, 275 E. Campbell, San Jose, CA 95008 (Thanks, Laurie Daugherty)
Kepler’s Bookstore, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025 (Thanks, Laurie Daugherty)

Borders Bookstore #587
925 Blossom Hill Road, Suite 1741, San Jose, CA 95123
Hicklebee’s, 1378 Lincoln Ave., San Jose, CA 95125 (6.4 miles)
Booksmart, 80 East Second St., Morgan Hill, CA 95037 (11.9 miles)
Recycle Bookstore, 1066 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126 (Thanks, Laurie Daugherty)
Recycle Bookstore, 275 E. Campbell, San Jose, CA 95008 (Thanks, Laurie Daugherty)
Kepler’s Bookstore, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025 (Thanks, Laurie Daugherty)

Borders Bookstore #141
2925 El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403
M is for Mystery, 86 East Third, San Mateo, CA 94401 (1.9 miles)
Books Inc., 1375 Burlingame Ave., Burlingame, CA 94010 (3.5 miles)
The Reading Bug, 785 Laurel St., San Carlos, CA 94070 (3.6 miles)

Borders Bookstore #379
120 Sunset Dr., San Ramon, CA 94583
Bay Books, 2415 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon, CA 94583 (0.0 miles)
Rakestraw Books, 522 Hartz Blvd., Danville, CA 94526 (4.0 miles)
Read, 4040 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506 (5.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #387
1200 Pacific Ave., Suite 100, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (0.0 miles)
The Literary Guillotine, 204 Locust St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (0.0 miles)
Logos Books & Records, 1117 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz CA 95060 (0.2 miles) (Thanks, Janina and Colleen.)
Capitola Book Cafe, 1475 41st Ave., Capitola, CA 95010 (2.9 miles)

Borders Bookstore #359
14651 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Portrait of a Bookstore, 4360 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City, CA 91604 (5.0 miles)
UCLA Bookzone, 308 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (5.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #621
10776 Trinity Parkway, Stockton, CA 95219
Books Rio V, 207-A Main Street, Rio Vista, CA 94571 (10.1 miles)
Read, 4040 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506 (26.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #450
2493 Park Ave., Tustin, CA 92782
A Whale of a Tale, 4199 Campus Drive, Irvine, CA 92612 (3.9 miles)
UCI Bookstore, UC Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697 (4.2 miles)
One Dollar Bookstore, 8520 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92869 (6.7 miles)
New & Recycled Romance 147 Broadway, Costa Mesa, CA 92627 (9.6 miles) (Thanks, Lisa Hendrix)

Borders Bookstore #443
32111 Union Landing Blvd., Union City, CA 94587
The Book Shop, 1007 B Street, Hayward, CA 94541 (5.6 miles)
Jordan’s Village, 3224 Village Dr., Castro Valley, CA 94546 (7.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #297
24445 Town Center Dr., Valencia, CA 91355
Books in the Belfry, 5453 Satsuma Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91601 (20.3 miles)
Dark Delicacies, 4213 W. Burbank, Burbank, CA 91505 (20.6 miles)
Iliad Bookshop, 5400 Cahuenga Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601 (20.6 miles)

Borders Bookstore #402
22401 Old Canal Road, Yorba Linda, CA 92887
Books Redux, 18508 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA 92886 (4.9 miles)
One Dollar Bookstore, 8520 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92869 (7.5 miles)


Borders Bookstore #481
6606 South Parker Road, Aurora, CO 80015
The Bookies, 4315 East Mississippi Ave., Denver, CO 80246 (10.1 miles)
Hermitage Bookshop, 290 Fillmore St., Denver, CO 80206 (11.7 miles)
Tattered Cover, Lowenstein Theater, Denver, Colorado 80206 (12.1 miles) (Thanks, Matthew Garcia)

Borders Bookstore #407
1750 Twenty Ninth Street, Suite 1052, Boulder, CO 80301
Troubadour Books, 5290 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, CO 80303 (1.0 miles)
Red Letter Secondhand Books, 1737 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302 (3.3 miles)
Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302 (3.3 miles) (Thanks, Drew)
Trident Booksellers and Cafe, 940 Pearl St, Boulder, CO, 80302 (Thanks, Paul Nuhn)
Innisfree Poetry, 1203 13th St. Suite A, Boulder, CO 80302 (Thanks, Brian)

Borders Bookstore #545
264 Dillon Ridge Way, Dillon, CO 80435
The Next Page, 409 Main Street, Frisco, CO 80443 (2.8 miles)
Hamlet’s Bookshoppe, 306 South Main Street, Breckenridge, CO 80424 (8.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #562
2464 US Highway 6 & 50, Suite 132, Grand Junction, CO 81505
Expressions Book Store, 302 2nd Street, Paonia, CO 81428 (51.4 miles)
Avis on the Corner, 325 6th Street, Meeker, CO 81641 (62.9 miles)

Borders Bookstore #413
2863 35th Ave., Greeley, CO 80634
Anthology Book Company, 942 9th Avenue, Greeley, CO 80631 (17.1 miles)
Book Haven, 1408 N. Lincoln, Loveland, CO 80538 (17.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #375
8501 West Bowles Ave., Littleton, CO 80123
Bo Peep Books, 987 Welch Court, Golden, CO 80401 (4.8 miles)
Tattered Cover, 9315 Dorchester, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129 (5.8 miles)


Borders Bookstore #214
110 Federal Road, Danbury, CT 06811
Books on the Common, 404 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877 (10.5 miles)
Bank Street Book Nook, 50 Bank Street, New Millford, CT 06776 (10.8 miles)
Rainy Day Paperback Exchange, 81 Greenwood Ave., Bethel, CT 06801 (Thanks, Monique)

Borders Bookstore #60
59 Pavilions Drive, Manchester, CT 06040
The Book Bar, 187 Route 66 East, 1C, Columbia, CT 06237 (13.3 miles)
Broad Street Books, 45 Broad Street, Middletown, CT 06457 (15.7 miles)
UConn Co-Op, 2075 Hillside Road, Storrs Mansfield, CT 06269 (19.9 miles) (Thanks, Suzy Staubach)

Borders Bookstore #165
1201 Boston Post Road, Milford, CT 06460
Collected Stories, 12 Daniel St., Milford, CT 06460 (0.0 miles)
Rainy Faye, 940 Broad Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604 (7.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #378
500 Bushy Hill Road, Simsbury, CT 06070
Millrace Books, 40 Mill Lane, Farmington, CT 06032 (7.6 miles)
Nobel Scholar Book Store, 1191 Farmington Ave., Bristol, CT 06010 (9.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #833
Southbury Plaza, 100 Main Street North, Spc 17, Southbury, CT 06488
Bank Street Book Nook, 50 Bank Street, New Millford, CT 06776 (12.1 miles)
Hickory Stick Bookshop, 2 Green Hill Road, Washington Depot, CT 06794 (12.8 miles)
Rainy Day Paperback Exchange, 81 Greenwood Ave., Bethel, CT 06801 (Thanks, Monique)

Borders Bookstore #530
14 Danbury Road (Gateway Center), Wilton, CT 06897
Elm Street Books, 35 Elm Street, New Canaan, CT 06840 (5.1 miles)
Books on the Common, 404 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877 (5.8 miles)


Borders Bookstore #285
5333 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20015
Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (0.9 miles)
Booktopia, 4701 Sangamore Road, Betheseda, MD 20816 (3.2 miles)

Borders Bookstore #50
1801 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
Chapters, 445 11th Street, Washington, DC 20004 (1.0 miles) (No longer physical location; thanks JH)
Bridge Street Books, 2814 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007 (1.5 miles)
Second Story Books, 2000 P Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (1.5 miles)
Kramerbooks & Afterwords, 1517 Conn. Ave., Washington, DC 20036 (Thanks, JH)


Borders Bookstore #181
880 W. State Road, #436, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
B & L Books, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714 (0.0 miles)
The Book Worm, 2400 E Washington St., Orlando, FL 32803 (10.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #493
2020 Town Center Blvd., Brandon, FL 33511
Inkwood Books, 216 South Armenia Ave., Tampa, FL 33609 (11.7 miles)
Mojo Books & Music, 2558 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33612 (13.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #593
2683 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33759
Book Bank, 10500 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL 33771 (7.2 miles)
Books at Park Place, 3710 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park, FL 33781 (9.0 miles)
Haslam’s, 2025 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713 (14 miles) (Thanks, Monique)

Borders Bookstore #124
2240 E. Sunrise Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304
Well Read, 1374 Southeast 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 (2.3 miles)
The Bookshop, 3020 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306 (2.4 miles) (Sadly, closing in two weeks; thanks Victor Velasco)
Underground Coffeehaus, 2473 E Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306 (2.5 miles)
Books & Books, Museum of Art-Fort Lauderdale, One East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (Thanks, Mark)

Borders Bookstore #604
Gulf Coast Town Center, 10037 Gulf Center Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33913
Cypress Paperback Exchange, 9541 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33919 (12.6 miles)
Sanibel Island Bookshop, 1571 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957 (23.3 miles)
Sandman Book Company, 16500 Burnt Store Road, #109, Punta Gorda, FL 33955 (24.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #355
6837 Newberry Road, Gainesville, FL 32605
Book Gallery West, 4121 NW 16th Blvd., Gainsville, FL 32605 (0.0 miles)
Books, Inc., 505 NW 13th Street, Gainesville, FL 32601 (2.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #207
8801 Southside Blvd., Ste. 10, Jacksonville, FL 32256
The Book Mark, 220 1st Street, Neptune Beach, FL 32265 (12.1 miles)
Comics & Classics, 1722 Third Street North, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250 (13.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #395
3066 NW Federal Highway, Jensen Beach, FL 34957
Vero Beach Book Center, 2145 Indian River Blvd., Vero Beach, FL 32960 (26.4 miles)
Classic Bookshop, 310 South County Road, Palm Beach, FL 33480 (41.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #410
10600 Tamiami Trail North, Suite 600, Naples, FL 34108
The Curiosity Shop, 2381 Davis Blvd., Naples, FL 34104
Macintosh Books, 2365 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957 (19.2 miles)

Borders Bookstore #254
9441 W. Colonial Drive, Oocee, FL 34761
B & L Books, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714 (8.1 miles)
The Book Worm, 2400 E Washington St., Orlando, FL 32803 (9.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #279
1051 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32809
The Book Worm, 2400 E Washington St., Orlando, FL 32803 (6.2 miles)
Brightlight Books, 1099 State Road 436, Casselberry, FL 32707 (13.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #259
8285 Red Bug Lake Road, Ovledo, FL 32765
Brightlight Books, 1099 State Road 436, Casselberry, FL 32707 (7.0 miles)
Maya Books, 201 East 1st Street, Sanford, FL 32771 (10.7 miles)
The Book Worm, 2400 E. Washington St., Orlando, FL 32803 (12.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #222
12171 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation, FL 33323
Big Apple Books, 1151 NE 45th Street, Pompano Beach, FL 33334 (11.7 miles)
Well Read, 1374 Southeast 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 (12.3 miles)
The Bookshop, 3020 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306 (12.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #626
3800 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34239
Circle Books, 478 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34236 (3.6 miles)
Little Bookworms< 478 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL (7.6 miles) Sanddollar Books, 272 Miami Avenue West, Venice, FL 34285 (15.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #148
909 Dale Mabry, Tampa, FL 33609
Inkwood Books, 216 South Armenia Ave., Tampa, FL 33609 (0.0 miles)
Mojo Books, 2588 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33612 (9.1 miles)
Haslam’s, 2025 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713 (Thanks, Monique)

Borders Bookstore #171
12500 N. Dale Mbwy, Tampa, FL 33618
Mojo Books, 2588 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33612 (4.3 miles)
Book Swap of Carrollwood, 3144 North Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 35614 (8.0 miles) (Thanks, Heather)
Inkwood Books, 216 South Armenia Ave., Tampa, FL 33609 (9.3 miles)
Haslam’s, 2025 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713 (Thanks, Monique)


Borders Bookstore #256
3101 Cobb Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339
The Corner Bookstore, 220 CNN Center, Atlanta, GA 30303 (7.2 miles)
Outwrite Bookstore, 991 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta, GA 30309 (7.7 miles)
A Cappella Books, 484-C Moreland Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 (8.7 miles)
Atlanta Vintage Books, 3660 Clairmont Road, Chamblee, GA 30341 (8.9 miles) (Thanks, Jimmy Lo)
Books Again, 225 North McDonough Street, Decatur, GA, 30030 (12 miles) (Thanks, Jimmy Lo)
Little Shop of Stories, 133 East Court Square, Decatur GA 30030 (14.5 miles) (Thanks, Diane Capriola)
Charis Books & More, 1189 Euclid Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307 (Thanks, Sara Luce Look)

Borders Bookstore #298
1605 East-West Connector Road, Austell, GA 30106
Book Worm , 4451 Marrietta St., Powder Springs, GA 30127 (4.4 miles)
The Corner Bookstore, 220 CNN Center, Atlanta, GA 30303 (14.2 miles)
Once & Again Books, 2960 Shallowford Road, Marietta, GA 30066 (14.6 miles)

Borders Bookstore #360
1705 Mall of Georgia Blvd., Suite 200, Buford, GA 30519
Books for Less, 2815 Buford Dr., Buford, GA 30519 (0.0 miles)
Humpus Bumpus Books, 703 Atlanta Road, Cumming, GA 30040 (14.1 miles)
Read It Again, 3630 Peachtree Parkway, Swanee, GA 30024 (14.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #411
605 Ernest W. Barrett Parkway, Building 400, Kennesaw, GA 30144
FoxTale Book Shoppe, 105 East Main St., Woodstock, GA 30188 (7.5 miles)
Once & Again Books, 2960 Shallowford Road, Marietta, GA 30066 (10.1 miles)
Book Exchange, 2956 Canton Rd. Marietta, GA 30066 (Thanks, Cathy Blanco)

Borders Bookstore #691
3630 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 100, Suanee, GA 30024
Read It Again, 3630 Peachtree Parkway, Swanee, GA 30024 (0.0 miles)
Books for Less, 2815 Buford Dr., Buford, GA 30519 (6.0 miles)
Humpus Bumpus Books, 703 Atlanta Road, Cumming, GA 30040 (6.7 miles)


Borders Bookstore #206
75-1000 Henry Street, Kallua-Kona, HI 96740
Kona Stories, 79-7460 Mamalaha Highway, Kealakekua, HI 96750 (16.8 miles)
Talk Story Bokstore, 3785 Hanapepe Road, Hanapepe, Kaua’i, HI (Thanks, E)
Logos Bookstore of Hawaii, 1024 Queen Street, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii (Thanks, E)
Hanalei Book Store, 4489 Aku Road, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii (Thanks E)

Borders Bookstore #95
4030 Nawillwill, Lihue, HI 96766
Unknown aside from Kona Stories. Hawaii, being a group of islands, is particularly hard hit by the Borders closings. However, there are three Barnes & Nobles located in Hawaii — two in Honolulu, one in Maui.


Borders Bookstore #480
161 N. Webber, Bolingbrook, IL 60490
Anderson’s, 123 West Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL 60540 (8.3 miles)
Old Towne Books & Tea., 61 S. Madison St., #63, Oswego, IL 60543 (9.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #408
3539 E. Main, St. Charles, IL 60174
Town House Books, 105 North 2nd Avenue, St. Charles, IL 60174 (0.0 miles)
Books at Sunset, 1100 South Street, Elgin, IL 60123 (9.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #564
775 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60610
Open Books, 213 W. Institute Place, Chicago, IL 60610 (0.0 miles)
Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, 357 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60610 (0.0 miles)
Barbara’s Bookstore, 201 East Huron, Chicago, IL 60611 (0.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #554
4718 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago, IL 60640
Women and Children First< 5233 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (0.0 miles) Ravenswood Used Books, 4626 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (1.4 miles)
Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60625 (1.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #517
6103 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60659
Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60625 (1.9 miles)
Ravenswood Used Books, 4626 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (2.1 miles)
Women and Children First< 5233 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (2.3 miles) Borders Bookstore #101
2817 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60657
Bookworks, 3444 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60657 (0.0 miles)
Unabridged Bookstore, 3251 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657 (0.0 miles)
Ravenswood Used Books, 4626 North Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60625 (2.1 miles)
Bookleggers, 2907 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657 (Thanks, Joseph Finn)
Chicago Comics, 3224 N Clark, Chicago, IL 60657 (Thanks, Joseph Finn)

Borders Bookstore #284
2210 W. 95th Street, Chicago, IL 60643
The Bookie’s Paperbacks & More, 2419 W. 103rd Street, Chicago, IL 60655 (3.8 miles)
The Seminary Co-Op Bookstores, 5757 South University Ave., Chicago, IL 60637 (9.3 miles)
57th Street Books, 1301 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637 (9.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #265
6000 Northwestern Highway, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Read Between the Lynes, 129 Van Buren Street, Woodstock, IL 60098 (11.2 miles)
This Old Book, 138 Center Street, Grayslake, IL 60030 (11.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #33
49 S. Waukegan Road, Deerfield, IL 60015
The Book Bin, 1151 Church St., Northbrook, IL 60062 (1.5 miles)
The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, 811 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL 60093 (5.3 miles)
Lake Forest Book Store, 680 N Western Ave, Lake Forest, IL 60045 (7 miles) (Thanks, Catherine Savage)

Borders Bookstore #498
2520 Sycamore Road, DeKalb, IL 60115
Eclectique Green Boutique, 300 E. Main Street, Plano, IL (18.1 miles)
Town House Books & Cafe, 105 North 2nd Ave., Saint Charles, IL 60174 (18.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #144
1700 Maple Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201
Bookman’s Alley, 1712 Sherman Avenue, Evanston, Illinois 60201 (0.0 miles)
The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, 811 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL 60093 (3.9 miles)
Market Fresh Books, 700 Church St., Evanston, IL 60201 (Thanks, Paul)
Market Fresh Books, 602 Davis Street, Evanston, IL 60201 (Thanks, Paul)

Borders Bookstore #575
4824 West 211th Street, Matteson, IL 60443
Azizi Books, 134 Lincoln Mall Drive, Matteson, IL 60443 (0.0 miles)
Empire Books, 20879 S. LaGrange Road, Frankfort, IL 60423 (4.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #503
2221 Richmond Road, McHenry, IL 60050
Cafe Book, 395 Lake Street, Antioch, Illinois 60002 (6.9 miles)
This Old Book, 138 Center Street, Grayslake, Illinois 60030 (8.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #363
909 North Elmhurst Road, Mt. Prospect, IL 60056
Top Shelf Books, 47 East Northwest Highway, Palatine, Illinois 60067 (6.7 miles)
The Book Bin, 1151 Church Street, Northbrook, Illinois 60062 (7.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #516
200 A North Greenbriar Drive, Normal, IL 61761
Babbitt’s Books, 119 E. Beaufort Street, Normal, Illinois 61761 (0.0 miles)
Bookworm Books, 3261 Court St. Pekin, Illinois 61554 (32.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #483
7100 W. Forest Preserve Drive, Norridge, IL 60706
Burke’s Books of Park Ridge, 2 Prairie Avenue, Park Ridge, Illinois 60068 (3.3 miles)
Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60625 (5.5 miles)
The Book Table, 1045 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301 (6.7 miles) (Thanks, Jason B. Smith and Rachel)


Borders Bookstore #504
2381 Pointe Parkway, Carmel, IN 46032
Big Hat Books, 6510 Cornell Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220 (4.7 miles)
Mudsock Books & Curiosity Shoppe, 11631 Fishers Station Drive, Fishers, IN 46038 (4.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #508
6401 E. Lloyds Expressway, Suite 1, Evansville, IN 47715
The Book Emporium, 303 S. Commercial, #9, Harrisburg, IL 62946 (61.6 miles)
Next Chapter Bookstore, 212 South Cross St., Robinson, IL 62454 (61.6 miles)

Borders Bookstore #488
11 S. Meridian Street, Suite 110, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Out Word Bound, 625 North East Street, Indianapolis, IN 46022 (0.3 miles) (Closed, thanks Mike Mullin)
Big Hat Books, 6510 Cornell Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220 (6.6 miles)
Downtown Comics, 5767 East 86th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46250 (10.0 miles)
Kids Ink, 5619 N. Illinois, Indianapolis, IN 46208 (Thanks Mike Mullin)
Borders Bookstore #600
2074 Southlake Mall, Merrilville, IN 46410
Azizi Books, 134 Lincoln Mall Drive, Matteson, Illinois 60443 (20.8 miles)
The Bookie’s Paperbacks, 2419 W 103rd, Chicago, Illinois 60655 (24.2 miles)

Borders Bookstore #195
4230 Grape Road, Mishawaka, IN 46545
The Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, Bookstore Building, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556 (2.6 miles)
Erasmus Books, 1027 E. Wayne, South Bend, Indiana 46617 (3.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #518
348 E. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47906
Purdue West Bookstore, 1400 W State St, Lafayette, Indiana 47906 (0.0 miles) (not an actual bookstore, thanks Jade!)
Von’s Book Shop, 315 West State Street, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906 (0.0 miles)


Borders Bookstore #203
700 New Hampshire Street, Lawrence, KS 66044
The Raven Bookstore, 6 East 7th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044 (0.0 miles)
The Dusty Bookshelf, 708 Massachusetts, Lawrence, KS 66044 (0.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #122
1715 Rock Road & 13th Street, Wichita, KS 67206
Prairie Archives, 522 East Adams, Springfield, IL 52701 (0.2 miles)
Trunk Novels, 1337 Wabash Ave., Springfield, IL 62704 (2.7 miles)
Watermark Books, 4701 East Douglas Avenue, Wichita, KS 67218 (3.9 miles) (Thanks, @Ragesingoddess)
Eighth Day Books, 2838 East Douglas Avenue, Wichita, KS 67214 (5.1 miles) (Thanks, @Ragesingoddess)


Borders Bookstore #571
2520 S. Hurstborne Gem Lane, Louisville, KY 40220
Carmichael’s Bookstore, 2720 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY 40206 (4.5 miles)
Carmichael’s Bookstore, 1295 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40204 (5.0 miles)
Gray’s College Bookstore, 1915 S. 4th Street, Louisville, KY 40208 (7.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #556
400 S. 4th Street, Louisville, KY 40202
Storylines by Regalo, 140 N. 4th St., Louisville, KY 40202 (0.0 miles)
Carmichael’s Bookstore, 1295 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40204 (2.5 miles)


Borders Bookstore #829
3338 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70115
McKeown’s Books and Difficult Music, 4737 Tchoupltoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70015 (0.0 miles)
Octavia Books, 513 Octavia Street, New Orleans, LA 70115
Maple Street Bookshop, 7523/29 Maple Street, New Orleans, LA 70118 (Thanks, Veronica)
Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania Street,
New Orleans, LA 70130 (Thanks, Britton)

Borders Bookstore #280
8131 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, LA 70002-6047
Tale of Two Sisters Bookstore, 4436 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, LA 70006 (2.5 miles)
Blue Cypress Books, 8126 Oak Street, New Orleans, LA 70118
Maple Street Bookshop, 7523/29 Maple Street, New Orleans, LA 70118 (Thanks, Veronica)


Borders Bookstore #174
4420 Mitchellville Road, Bowie, MD 20716
The Book Nook, 5606 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville, MD 20781 (12.3 miles)
The Anapolis Bookstore, 68 Maryland Ave, Annapolis, MD 21401 (12.6 miles)
Hard Bean Coffee & Books, 36 Market Space, Annapolis, MD 21401 (12.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #10
11301 Rockville Pike, Kensington, MD 20895
Kensington Row Bookshop, 3786 Howard Avenue
Kensington, MD 20895 (0.0 miles)
Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (5.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #542
931 Capital Centre Blvd., Largo, MD 20774
The Book Nook, 5606 Baltimore Avenue, Hyattsville, MD 20781 (13.6 miles)
Capitol Hill Books, 657 C St SE, Washington, DC 20003 (14.7 miles)
The Anapolis Bookstore, 68 Maryland Ave, Annapolis, MD 21401 (15.6 miles)


Borders Bookstore #330
511 Bolyston Street, Boston, MA 02116
The Children’s Book Shop, 237 Washington St., Brookline, MA 02445 (1.5 miles)
Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 02446 (2.1 miles)
Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
Trident Booksellers, 338 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02115 (Thanks, Blake Stacey)
Raven Used Books, 263 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116 (Thanks, Blake Stacey)
Comicopia, 464 Comm. Ave., Kenmore Square, Boston, MA 02215 (Thanks, Blake Stacey)

Borders Bookstore #251
Wayside Commons, 6 Wayside Road, Space U, Burlington, MA 01803
Book Ends, 559 Main Street, Winchester, MA 01890 (4.9 miles)
The Book Rack, 13 Medford St., Arlington, MA 02474 (6.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #235
Holyoke Mall, 50 Holyoke Street, Space J312, Holyoke, MA 01041
The Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075 (4.6 miles)
Heritage Books, 225 College Highway, Southampton, MA 01073 (6.0 miles)
White Square Books, 86 Cottage Street, Easthampton, MA 01027 (7.7 miles) (Thanks, Bronwen)
Cherry Picked Books, 101 Main Street, Easthampton, MA 01027 (8.3 miles) (Thanks, Bronwen)
Broadside Books, 247 Main Street, Northampton, MA 01060 (12 miles) (Thanks, Bronwen)
Raven Used Books, 4 Old South Street, Northampton, MA 01060 (12 miles) (Thanks, Bronwen)
Booklink, 150 Main Street, Thornes Marketplace, Northampton, MA 01060 (12 miles) (Thanks, Bronwen)
The Montague Bookmill, 440 Greenfield Rd. Montague, MA 01351 (Thanks, Dina Merrer)

Borders Bookstore #209
990 Iyannough Road, Hyannis, MA 02601
Tim’s Used Books, 386 Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601 (0.0 miles)
Books by the Sea, 846 Main Street, Osterville, MA 02655 (3.6 miles)

Borders Bookstore #59
151 Andover Street, Peabody, MA 01960
Derby Square Bookstore, 215 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970 (5.6 miles) (Thanks, Jeff Cross)
The Spirit of 76, 107 Pleasant St., Marblehead, MA 01945 (5.8 miles)
The Book Shop of Beverly Farms, 40 West St., Beverly Farms, MA 01915 (7.9 miles)
Used Book Superstore, Endicott Plaza, 139 Endicott St., Danvers, MA 01923 (Thanks, Jeff Cross)
Hand It Back Book Smyth, 240 S Main St., Middleton, MA 01949 (Thanks, Jeff Cross)

Borders Bookstore #803
Wareham Crossing, 2421 Cranberry Highway, Suite 460, Wareham, MA 02571
Buttonwood Books, Route 3A, Cohasset, MA 02025 (1.9 miles)
Titcomb’s, 432 Route 6A, East Sandwich, MA 02537 (11.5 miles)
Baker Books, 69 State Road (Route 6), Dartmouth, CA 02747 (31.4 miles) (Thanks, @ErinHere)


Borders Bookstore #303
3527 Washtenaw Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Aunt Agatha’s, 213 South 4th Ave. Ann Arbor, MI 48104 (0.0 miles)
Common Language Bookstore, 317 Braun Court, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 (0.0 miles)
Nicola’s Books, 2513 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103 (3.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #273
17141 Kercheval Avenue, Grosse Pointe, MI 48230
Motor City Book Drive, 18135 E. Nine Mile Road, Eastpointe, MI 48021 (5.7 miles)
The Bookmark, 28853 Bunert Rd, Warren, MI 48088 (5.9 miles)
John K. King Used & Rare Books, 901 W. Lafeyette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226 (7.8 miles) (Thanks, Gavin Craig, for correction.)
Leopold’s Books, 15 E Kirby St., Detroit, MI, 48202 (Thanks, Peter Markus)

Borders Bookstore #71
5601 Mercury Drive, Dearborn, MI 48126
Magina Books, 2311 Fort Street, Lincoln Park, Michigan 48146 (4.2 miles)
John R. King Used & Rare Books, 901 W. Lafeyette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226 (6.3 miles)
The Book Beat, 26010 Greenfield, Oak Park, MI 48237 (12.2 miles)
Leopold’s Books, 15 E Kirby St., Detroit, MI, 48202 (Thanks, Peter Markus)
Green Brain Comics, 13210 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI 48126 (Thanks, Dan Merritt)

Borders Bookstore #53
45290 Utica Park Blvd., Uitca, MI 48315
Motor City Book Drive, 18135 E. Nine Mile Road, Eastpointe, MI 48021 (14.6 miles)
The Book Beat, 26010 Greenfield, Oak Park, MI 48237 (16.7 miles)
Leopold’s Books, 15 E Kirby St., Detroit, MI, 48202 (Thanks, Peter Markus)


Borders Bookstore #569
12059 Elm Creek Blvd., Maple Grove, MN 55369
Dreamhaven Books, 2301 East 38th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406 (4.4 miles)
Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (4.8 miles)
BookSmart, 2914 Hennepin Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408 (4.9 miles)

Borders Bookstore #31
1501 Plymouth Road, Minnetonka, MN 55305
The Bookcase, 607 Lake St E, Wayzata, Minnesota 55391 (3.4 miles)
Excelsior Bay Books, 36 Water Street, Excelsior, MN 55331 (5.9 miles)

Borders Bookstore #189
800 W. 78th Street, Richfield, MN 55423
True Colors Bookstore, 4755 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55407 (2.8 miles)
Wild Rumpus, 2720 West 43rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55410 (3.6 miles)
Dreamhaven Books, 2301 East 38th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406 (4.4 miles)
Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (4.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #267
1390 W. University Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104
Micawber’s, 2238 Carter Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55108 (1.5 miles)
Red Balloon Books, 891 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (2.8 miles)
Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454 (3.0 miles)


Borders Bookstore #213
15355-A Machester Road, Ballwin, MO 63011
The Book House, 9719 Manchester Road, Saint Louis, MO 63119 (14.6 miles)
The Book Shelf 8452 Watson Rd
St. Louis, MO 63119 (15.5 miles)
Left Bank, 399 N. Euclid, St. Louis, MO 63108 (Thanks, Julia Porter)
Subterranean Books, 6275 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63130 (Thanks, Julia Porter)
Pudd’nhead Books, 37 South Old Orchard Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119 (Thanks, Julia Porter)

Borders Bookstore #329
2040 Chesterfield Mall, Chesterfield, MO 63017
Main Street Books, 307 South Main Street, Saint Charles, MO 63301 (10.4 miles)
The Book House, 9719 Manchester Road, Saint Louis, MO 63119 (13.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #565
8628 North Boardwalk Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64154
The Book Barn, 410 Delaware Street, Leavenworth, Kansas 66048 (15.1 miles)
Prospero’s Books, 1800 West 39th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64111 (15.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #658
5201 North Belt Highway, Suite 127, St. Joseph, MO 64506
The Book Barn, 410 Delaware Street, Leavenworth, Kansas 66048 (30.9 miles)
Prospero’s Books, 1800 West 39th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64111 (50.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #492
1320 Mid Rivers Mall, St. Peters, MO 63376
Main Street Books, 307 South Main Street, Saint Charles, MO 63301 (8.0 miles)
The Book House, 9719 Manchester Road, Saint Louis, MO 63119 (17.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #529
3300 S. Glenstone Avenue, Springfield, MO 65804
Missouri State Bookstore, 717 S Florence Ave
Springfield, MO 65807 (0.0 miles)
Book Castle, 2252 South Campbell, Springfield, MO 65807 (2.3 miles)


Borders Bookstore #548
2855 North 19th Avenue, Suite C, Bozeman, MT 59718
Country Bookshelf, 28 West Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715 (5.6 miles)
Grannie Irene’s Attic, 15 E. Main Street, Belgrade, Montana 59714 (14.0 miles)


Borders Bookstore #81
2323 S. Decatur Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89102
Greyhound’s Books, 539 W Oakey Blvd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89102 (0.0 miles)
Dead Poet, 937 S Rainbow Blvd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89145 (3.5 miles)
Bestseller Books, 4260 W Craig Rd #140, Las Vegas, Nevada 89032 (6.9 miles)

New Hampshire

Borders Bookstore #255
281 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, NH 03060
The Book Cellar, 34 Northwest Boulevard, Unit #10, Nashua, New Hampshire 03063 (5.4 miles)
The Toadstool Bookshop, Lorden Plaza Route 101-A, Milford, New Hampshire 03055 (12.5 miles)

New Jersey

Borders Bookstore #499
1642 Schlosser Street, Fort Lee, NJ 07024
Womrath’s, 12 Washington Street, Tenafly, NJ 07670 (5.3 miles)
Book Ends, 232 East Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ 07450-3816 (13.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #302
1515 Route 22 West, Suite 2, Watchung, NJ 07069
The Town Book Store, 270 East Broad Street, Westfield, NJ 07090 (4.6 miles)
Sages Pages, 300 Main Street, Madison, NJ 07940 (7.6 miles)
The Bookworm, 99 Claremont Road, Bernardsville, NJ 07924 (9.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #34
Garden State Plaza, Suite 2200, Paramus, NJ 07652
Book Ends, 232 East Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ 07450-3816 (3.4 miles)
Well Read, 425 Lafayette Ave, Hawthorne, NJ 07506 (4.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #241
Raceway Mall, 3710 Route 9, Ste. 2318, Freehold, NJ 07728
Booktowne, 171 Main Street, Manasquan, NJ 08736 (10.3 miles)
Act 2 Books, 90 Wilson Ave, Englishtown, NJ 07726 (10.7 miles)

New Mexico

Borders Bookstore #684
10420 Coors Bypass NW, Suite B, Albuquerque, NM 87114
Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande Boulevard Northwest, Albuquerque, NM 87107 (2.9 miles)
Title Wave Books, 1408 Menaul Blvd. NM, Albuquerque, NM 87112 (9.5 miles)
Alamosa Books, 8810 Holly Ave. NE Ste. D, Albuquerque, NM 87122 (10.4 miles) (Thanks, Richard Vargas)

Borders Bookstore #278
500 Montezuma, Suite 108, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Collected Works, 202 Galisteo St, Santa Fe, NM 87501 (0.0 miles)
Otowi Station, 1350 Central Ave, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87544 (27.0 miles)

New York

Borders Bookstore #179
68 Veterans Memorial Highway, Commack, NY 11725
Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington, NY 11743 (8.0 miles)
Best Bargain Books, 217 Centereach Mall, Centereach, NY 11720 (10.4 miles) (Closed; see alt. locations below; thanks, John Walsh)
Best Bargain Books, 65 Robinson Ave., Patchogue, NY 11772 (Thanks, John Walsh)
Best Bargain Books, 14 East Main Street, Port Jefferson, NY 11777 (Thanks, John Walsh)

Borders Bookstore #507
40 Catherwood Road, Ithaca, NY 14850
Colophon Books, 205 N Aurora St., Ithaca, NY 14850 (0.2 miles) (Thanks, @eruditegore)
Riverow Bookshop, 187 Front St., Owego, NY 13827 (32.0 miles)
Creekside Books, 35 Fennell St., Skaneateles, NY 13152 (37.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #566
100 Broadway, New York, NY 10005
The Mysterious Bookshop, 58 Warren St., New York, NY 10007 (0.7 miles)
McNally Jackson, 52 Prince St., New York, NY 10012 (1.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #228
576 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Revolution Books, 146 West 26th St., New York, NY 10001 (0.7 miles)
Idlewild Books, 12 West 19th St., New York, NY 10011 (0.8 miles)
Books of Wonder, 18 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011 (0.9 miles)
Strand Books, 828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 (1.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #200
461 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Center for Fiction Books, 17 East 47th St., New York, NY 10017 (0.7 miles)
Rizzoli Books, 31 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019 (1.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #389
395 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
East Line Books, 1714 Route 9, Clinton Park, NY 12065 (8.4 miles)
Old Saratoga Books, 94 Broad Street, Schuylerville, New York 12871 (11.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #475
680 White Plains Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583
Galapagos Books, 22 Main St # A, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York 10706 (2.1 miles)
Womrath Bookshop, 76 Pondfield Road, Bronxville, New York 10708 (2.9 miles)
Voracious Reader, 1997 Palmer Ave, Larchmont, NY 10538 (Thanks, Kristi Cook)
Anderson’s Book Shop, 96 Chatsworth Ave #A, Larchmont, NY 10538 (Thanks, Emily)

Borders Bookstore #595
1820 South Road, Suite 110, Wappinger Falls, NY 12590
Three Arts Bookstore, 3 Collegeview Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York 12603 (7.4 miles)
Book Cove, 22 Charles Colman Boulevard, Pawling, New York 12564 (15.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #52
1260 Old County Road, Westbury, NY 11590
Dolphin Bookshop, 299 Main Street, Port Washington, NY 11050 (8.4 miles)
Forest Value Books, 170 Forest Ave., Glen Cove, NY 11542 (8.6 miles)

North Carolina

Borders Bookstore #333
1541 Beaver Creek Commons Dr., Ste. 220, Apex, NC 27502
McIntyre’s, 2000 Fearrington Village
Pittsboro, NC 27312 (7.8 miles)
Internationalist Books, 405 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 (13.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #132
1751 Walnut Street, Cary, NC 27511
Reader’s Corner, 3201 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607 (6.5 miles)
Quail Ridge Books, 3522 Wade Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27607 (6.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #490
1807 Fordham Blvd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Flyleaf Books, 752 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514 (0.0 miles)
The Regulator Bookshop, 720 9th Street, Durham, NC 27705 (6.0 miles)
The Gothic Bookshop, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708 (6.1 miles)
The Bull’s Head Bookshop, 207 South Road, CB#1530, Daniels Bldg, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 (Thanks, Erica Eisdorfer)

Borders Bookstore #134
3605 High Point Road, Greensboro, NC 27407
Edward McKay Books, 1607 Battleground Ave., Greensboro, NC 27408 (0.6 miles)
Lucky City Book and Wine Bar, 125 S. Scales St., Reidsville, NC 27320 (20.9 miles)

Borders Bookstore #365
404-101 East Six Forks Road, Raleigh, NC 27609
Edward McKay Books, 3514 Capital Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27604 (2.9 miles)
Quail Ridge Books, 3522 Wade Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27607 (4.1 miles)


Borders Bookstore #347
9459 Colerain Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45251
The Bookshelf, 7754 Camargo Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45243 (13.9 miles)
Passage Books, 126 Front St, New Richmond, Ohio 45157 (27.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #172
6670 Sawmill Road, Columbus, OH 43235
Cover to Cover Children’s Books, 3560 N High St., Columbus, Ohio 43214 (5.6 miles)
Karen Wickliff Books, 3527 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43214 (5.6 miles)
Foul Play Mystery Books, 27 East College Avenue, Westerville, Ohio 43081 (7.7 miles)
Acorn Bookshop, 1464 West Fifth Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43212 (8.0 miles)
The Book Loft, 631 South Third Steet, Columbus, OH 43206 (16.1 miles) (Thanks, Dina Merrer)

Borders Bookstore #2:
4545 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43220
Village Bookshop, 2424 W. Dublin Granville Road, Columbus, OH 43235 (1.8 miles)
Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers, 3560 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43214 (2.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #116
2700 Miamisburg Centerville Road, Suite 870, Dayton, OH 45459
Bonnett’s, 502 E. 5th St., Dayton, Ohio 45402 (7.7 miles)
Blue Jacket Books, 60 South Detroit Street, Xenia, Ohio 45385 (12.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #588
5105 Deerfield Blvd., Mason, OH 45040
The Bookshelf, 7754 Camargo Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45243 (11.8 miles)
Books ‘N” More, 28 West Main Street, Wilmington, Ohio 45177 (26.0 miles)

Borders Bookstore #601
4927 Grande Shops Ave., Medina, OH 44256
The Bookseller Inc., 39 Westgate Circle, Akron, OH 44313 (14.4 miles)
Baldwin-Wallace College Bookstore, Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio 44017 (16.0 miles)
Visible Voice Books, 1023 Kenilworth, Cleveland, Ohio 44113 (Thanks, Toni Thayer)
Fireside Book Shop, 29 North Franklin Street, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022 (Thanks, Toni Thayer)
Learned Owl Book Shop, 204 North Main Street, Hudson, OH 44236 (Thanks, Toni Thayer)

Borders Bookstore #358
9565 Mentor Avenue, Mentor, OH 44060
Half Price Books, 9383 Mentor Ave., Mentor, OH 44060 (0.0 miles)
Joseph-Beth, 24519 Cedar Road, Lyndhurst, OH 44124 (15.6 miles)
Mac’s Backs, 1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118 (17.8 miles)
Appletree Books, 12419 Cedar Rd., Cleveland, OH 44106 (22.7 miles) (Thanks, Darby)
Loganberry Books, 13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights, OH 44120 (25.6 miles) (Thanks, @SplatsReads)
Visible Voice Books, 1023 Kenilworth, Cleveland, Ohio 44113 (Thanks, Toni Thayer)
Fireside Book Shop, 29 North Franklin Street, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022 (Thanks, Toni Thayer)
Learned Owl Book Shop, 204 North Main Street, Hudson, OH 44236 (Thanks, Toni Thayer)
Village Bookstore, 8140 Main Street, Garrettsville, OH 44231 (35 miles) (Thanks, Ellen Eckhouse)


Borders Bookstore #151
3209 Northwest Expressway, Oklahoma City, OK 73112
Full Circle Books, 1900 NW Expressway, Oklahoma City, OK 73118 (0.2 miles)

Borders Bookstore #264
8015 S. Yale, Tulsa, OK 74136
Steve’s Books, 2612 S Harvard Ave., Tulsa, Oklahoma 74114 (4.3 miles)
Books & Co., 2021 S Lewis Ave., Tulsa, OK 74104 (4.4 miles)


Borders Bookstore #455
3515 Gettysburg Road, Camp Hill, PA 17011
Midtown Scholar, 1302 North Third Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110 (2.8 miles)
York Emporium, 343 West Market Street, York, Pennsylvania 17401 (21.8 miles) (Thanks Chrissy for website link)

Borders Bookstore #377
2088A Interchange Road, Erie, PA 16509
Erie Books Galore, 5546 Peach Street, Erie, PA 16509-2604 (Thanks, Andrew)
Erie Bookstore, 37 East 13th Street, Erie, PA 16503 (9.1 miles)
The Last Wordsmith Shoppe, 17 East Main Street, North East, PA 16421 (11.4 miles)

Borders Bookstore #487
650 Mall Blvd., King of Prussia, PA 19406
The Bookworm, 742 Main St., Phoenixville, PA 19460 (4.9 miles)
Wolfgang Books, 237 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460 (5.4 miles) (Sadly, about to close: thanks, @Bookavore and Laura)
Wellington Square Bookshop, 549 Wellington Square, Exton, PA 19341 (Thanks Emma)
Chester County Book & Music Company, 975 Paoli Pike, West Chester, PA 19380 (Thanks Martha Bullen)

Borders Bookstore #204
2343 E. Lincoln Highway, Langhorne, PA 19047
Newtown Books, 2829 South Eagle Road, Newtown, PA 18940 (4.1 miles)
Farley’s, 44 South Main Street, New Hope, PA 18938 (12.9 miles)

Borders Bookstore #143
200 Mall Blvd., Monroeville, PA 15146
Mystery Lovers Bookshop, 514 Allegheny River Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15139 (7.0 miles)
Aspinwall, 20 Brilliant Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15215 (8.8 miles) (Thanks, @Twiittsburgh)
Caliban Books, 410 South Craig Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (14.9 miles) (Thanks, Holly Mohr)
Townsend Booksellers, 4612 Henry St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (14.9 miles) (Thanks, Holly Mohr)
City Books, 1111 East Carson St., Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (16.8 miles) (Thanks, Holly Mohr)
Awesome Books, 5111 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224 (Thanks, Andrea)

Borders Bookstore #9
1775 North Highland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Bradley’s Book Cellar, 1948 Greentree Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15220 (6.6 miles)
Eljay’s Used Books, 1309 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (10.4 miles)
Joseph-Beth, 2705 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (10.8 miles) (Thanks, @Twittsburgh)

Borders Bookstore #457
5986 Penn Circles South, Suite 101, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Aspinwall, 20 Brilliant Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15215 (1.6 miles)
Mystery Lovers Bookshop, 514 Allegheny River Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15139 (2.6 miles)

Borders Bookstore #175
1075 Woodland Road, Reading, PA 19610
Saucony Books, 41 West Main Street, Kutztown, PA 19530 (15.4 miles)
Aaron’s Books, 43 South Broad Street, Lititz, PA 17543 (22.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #345
1937 Whitehall Mall, Whitehall, PA 18052
Blind Willow Book Shop, 412 Chestnut St., Emmaus, PA 18049 (4.3 miles)
Lion Around Books, 302 West Broad Street, Quakertown, PA 18951 (14.0 miles)
Moravian Bookshop, 428 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018 (Thanks, Mary)


Borders Bookstore #536
545 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 190, Franklin, TN 37067
Landmark Books, 114 E Main St., Franklin, Tennessee 37064 (2.9 miles)
Mysteries & More, Lenox Village, Nashville, TN 37211 (6.9 miles)
Davis-Kidd, 2121 Green Hills Village Drive, Nashville, TN 37215 (8.3 miles) (Thanks to all for pointing out this closing.)
Rhino Books, 4006 Granny White Pike 37204, Nashville, TN 37209 (11.4 miles) (Thanks, James Harrington)
Bookman/Bookwoman, 1713 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212 (15.7 miles) (Thanks, James Harrington)
Elder’s Books, 2115 Elliston Pl, Nashville, TN 37203 (17.4 miles) (Thanks, James Harrington)
McKay Used Books, 5708 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209-3215 (Thanks, Derek)


Borders Bookstore #367
4477 S. Lamar, Austin, TX 78745
Monkeywrench Books, 110 E. North Loop, Austin, Texas 78751 (0.8 miles)
Book Woman, 5501 North Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas 78751 (1.3 miles)
Brave New Books, 1904 Guadalupe Street
Austin, Texas 78705 (2.7 miles)
Bookpeople, 603 N. Lamar, Austin TX 78703 (Thanks, Jason)
12th Street Books, 827 West 12th Street, Austin, TX 78701 (Thanks, frogprof)

Borders Bookstore #103
3309 Espernza Crossing, Austin, TX 78758
Book Woman, 5501 North Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas 78751 (6.5 miles)
The Book Spot, 1205 Round Rock Ave #119, Round Rock, TX 78681 (6.6 miles)
Monkeywrench Books, 110 E. North Loop, Austin, Texas 78751 (6.9 miles)

Borders Bookstore #247
9500 South IH 35 Service Road, Southpark Meadows, Suite F, Austin, TX 78748
BookPeople, 603 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78703 (6.4 miles)
Domy Books, 913 E Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78702 (7.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #584
1131 N. Burleson Blvd., Burleson, TX 76028
The Book Rack, 2304 W Park Row Dr # 15, Arlington, TX 76013 (11.6 miles)
Half Price Books, 5417 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth, TX 76132 (13.3 miles)
Half Price Books, 12616 S. Freeway, Burleson, TX 76028 (Thanks, Kirk)

Borders Bookstore #462
5615 Colleyville Blvd., Suite 100, Colleyvile, TX 76034
The Book Carriage, 304 N. Oak St., Roanoke, TX 76262 (8.2 miles)
The Book Rack, 2304 W Park Row Dr # 15, Arlington, TX 76013 (11.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #32
10720 Preston Road, Suite 1018, Dallas, TX 75230
The Story Book House, 2925 Fairmount Drive, Dallas, TX 75201 (7.9 miles)
Weekend Reader, 4000 Pioneer Road
Balch Springs, TX 75180 (11.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #612
3600 McKinney Avenue, Dallas, TX 75204
The Story Book House, 2925 Fairmount Drive, Dallas, TX 75201 (1.1 miles)
Paperbacks Plus, 6115 La Vista, Dallas, TX 75214 (1.8 miles)
Weekend Reader, 4000 Pioneer Road
Balch Springs, TX 75180 (12.3 miles)

Borders Bookstore #146
2403 S. Stemmons, Suite 100, Lewisville, TX 75067
Bookworm, 3245 Main Street, Frisco, Texas 75034 (11.2 miles)
Adventure Bookshop, 7080 Main Street, Frisco, Texas 75034 (12.9 miles)
The Book Carriage, 304 N. Oak St., Roanoke, TX 76262 (13.1 miles)

Borders Bookstore #541
2709 N. Mesquite Drive, Mesquite, TX 75150
Paperbacks Plus, 108 E. Davis Street;
Mesquite, TX 75149 (5.1 miles)
Weekend Reader, 4000 Pioneer Road
Balch Springs, TX 75180 (8.6 miles)

Borders Bookstore #90
1601 Preston Road, Suite J, Plano, TX 75093-5101
Bookworm, 3245 Main Street, Frisco, Texas 75034 (6.8 miles)
Adventure Bookshop, 7080 Main Street, Frisco, Texas 75034 (6.8 miles)


Borders Bookstore #553
1050 North Main Street, Logan, UT 84321
The Book Table, 29 South Main Street Logan, UT 84321 (0.2 miles) (Thanks, Sarah)
The Book Shelf 3.0, 2671 Washington Blvd., Ogden, UT 84401 (30.7 miles)
The New Wisebird Bokery, 4850 Harrison Blvd., Ogden, UT 84403 (33.3 miles)
The REaD Cat Bookstore, 189 S. State St., Clearfield, UT 84015 (38.5 miles)

Borders Bookstore #274
132 E. Winchester, Murray, UT 84107
King’s English, 1511 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84105 (6.6 miles)
Sam Weller’s Books, 254 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 (8.5 miles)


Borders Bookstore #92
9750 W. Broad Street, Glen Allen, VA 23060
Book People, 536 Granite Ave., Richmond, VA 23226 (6.0 miles)
Tumbleweeds Used Bookstore, 2715 Buford Road, Richmond, VA 23235 (8.8 miles)
Carytown Books, 4021 MacArthur Avenue, Richmond, VA 23227 (Thanks, Pamela K. Kinney)
Twice Told Tales, 6658 Main Street, Gloucester Court House, VA 23061 (Thanks, Pamela K. Kinney)

Borders Bookstore #682
12300 Jefferson Ave., Suite 100, Newport News, VA 23602
The Way We Were, 32 East Mellen Street, Hampton, VA 23663 (10.9 miles) (Thanks, @muttinmall)
Jeannie’s Used Books, 3202 High Street, Portsmouth, VA 23707 (19.4 miles)
Prince Books, 109 East Main Street, Norfolk, VA 23510 (19.7 miles)

Borders Bookstore #636
1240 Stafford Market Place, Stafford, VA 22556
Griffin Bookshop and Coffee Bar, 106 Hanover Street, Fredericksbug, VA 22401 (12.2 miles)
Riverby Books, 805 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401 (12.2 miles)

Borders Bookstore #29
8027 Leesburg Pike, Suite 100, Vienna, VA 22182
One More Page, 2200 N. Westmoreland St., Arlington, VA 22213 (7.1 miles)
Booktopia, 4701 Sangamore Road, Betheseda, MD 20816 (8.6 miles)
Already Read Used Books, 2501 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (11.8 miles) (Thanks, Diane & Ken)
Book Bank Used Books, 1510 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (12 miles) (Thanks, Diane & Ken)
Hurray for Books!, 1555 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (12 miles) (Thanks, Diane & Ken)

Borders Bookstore #685
2420 S. Pleasant Valley Road, Winchester, VA 22601
Winchester Book Gallery, 185 N. Loudoun St., Winchester, VA (0.0 miles)
Blue Plate Books, 2261 Valley Ave., Winchester, VA (0.0 miles)


Borders Bookstore #234
4601 Point Fosdick Dr. NW, Gig Habor, WA 98335
Mostly Books, 3126 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor, Washington 98335 (0.0 miles)
King’s Books, 218 St Helens Ave Tacoma, WA 98402 (12.1 miles) (Thanks Grace Baldwin)
A Novel Bookstore, 305 1st St., S. #1, Yelm, WA 98597
A Good Book Cafe, 1014 Main Street, Sumner, WA 98390
(Thanks to Marcus for pointing out the wrong ZIP code)

Borders Bookstore #619
3000 184th Street SW, Suite 910, Lynnwood, WA 98037
University Book Store, 15311 Main Street, Mill Creek, WA 98012 (4.0 miles)
Edmonds Bookshop, 111 5th Avenue South, Edmonds, WA 98020 (4.1 miles)
Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, WA 98155 (6.5 miles) (Thanks, Emily)


Borders Bookstore #336
8705 N. Port Washington, Fox Point, WI 53217
Next Chapter Bookshop, 10976 North Port Washington Road, Mequon, WI 53092 (3.5 miles)
Boswell Book Company, 2559 N Downer Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53211 (7.4 miles)
Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 E Locust St, Milwaukee, WI 53212 (8.56 miles) (Thanks, Cathy Cunningham)

Borders Bookstore #467
5250 S. 76th Street, Greendale, WI 53129
Broad Vocabulary, 2241 South Kinnickinnic Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53207 (6.6 miles)
The Little Read Book, 7603 West State St., Wauwatosa, WI 53123 (7.8 miles)

Borders Bookstore #3
3750 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53705
Booked for Murder, 2701 University Ave., Madison, WI 53705 (0.0 miles)
University Book Store, 711 State Street, Madison, WI 53703 (1.9 miles)
Avol’s Books, 315 West Gorham Street, Madison, WI 53703 (2.2 miles)
A Room of One’s Own, 307 W. Johnson St., Madison, WI 53703 (Thanks, Colette Cabralle)

Borders Bookstore #543
101 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53203
Mystery One Bookshop, 2109 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202 (2.0 miles)
Broad Vocabulary, 2241 South Kinnickinnic Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53207 (2.4 miles)
Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 E Locust St, Milwaukee, WI 53212 (2.8 miles) (Thanks, Cathy Cunningham)

(Image: Brian Rudnick)

The Bat Segundo Show: Eduardo Porter

Eduardo Porter appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #381. He is most recently the author of The Price of Everything.

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Shopping for a new religion.

Author: Eduardo Porter

Subjects Discussed: Faith and the Pascalian wager, whether or not Americans perceive faith in fair prices, the idea of a price embodying the making of a thing, Marx and labor, how our understanding of prices is a function of transaction, worker exploitation, Dan Ariely and behavioral economics, “buying a sense of our own goodness,” tipping in Japan, Porter being needlessly concerned with the price of a Los Angeles condo he sold years earlier, new economic frontiers without speculative bubbles, Robert C. Wright and predicting bubbles, Keynesian beauty contests, orange juice and the weather, derivatives and probability, the inability to separate legitimate bubbles with sham bubbles, subprimes and low interest rates, John Rawls and society maximizing the well-being of the least fortunate, the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, ephemeral jobs and speculative bubbles, unfair income redistribution and prices, diversity and labor, William Julius Wilson, Sir Nicholas Stern’s idea of the wealth of the individual remaining steady throughout the years vs. human life as priceless, the 9/11 Commission and Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation discrepancy, anti-egalitarianism, competing subjective viewpoints about the price of a life, economic consequences that emerge from changing a speed limit, the value of a person toiling in a maquiladora vs. the value of Clive Owen, connections between pricing and elitism, time and the value of human life, France’s price on Haiti, and the colonialist implications of price.


Porter: In the mid-1990s, a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tried to come up with an early estimate of the economic impact of global warming. And to do this, it used some of these estimates of the value of life. And it decided that the value of life in poor countries was $150,000 and in rich countries $1.5 million. Now you can imagine that didn’t go down very well at an international meeting with rich and poor countries. I mean, this was a rebellion. “What do you mean?” So if rising seas are going to wipe out Bangladesh, it’s cheap. But if something is going to happen in Switzerland, then we really have to worry. So ultimately, at the end of the day, they came to a political compromise. And they redid this, valuing everybody at $1 million.

Correspondent: But on the other hand, for the sake of argument, if you have some central authority making such an insensitive statement — that a person born in one country is worth less than someone born in an industrialized nation — wouldn’t that open up the fact that we’re all living within unseen disparities? That the value of someone toiling right now in a maquiladora or an export processing zone is, we all know, worth less than the life of President Obama. Or the life of actor Clive Owen, who is probably worth more than either of us ever will be.

Porter: Well, yes. This is a manifestation of the inequities in life. That it’s just a replication after death of a very unequal distribution of opportunities and rewards. That’s true.

Correspondent: Well then. If pricing essentially confirms that, it’s almost as if pricing confirms an Ortega y Gasset-like notion of elitism. That really what we’re denying in denying these crude and cold and insensitive prices is denying the inherent elitist nature of the capitalist system that we live by in this purported democracy that you, in the book, actually uphold.

Porter: I would say that that’s essentially correct. I mean, capitalism is not an equal society. And I don’t think it can work as an equal society. Disparities are what steer resources to be allocated into one place or another. Pay differentials lead people to take one choice rather than another. To move into one job or another. To get one type of education or another. So the idea that everybody must be paid equal is, I don’t think, functional. It does not function within a capitalistic society. If you’re asking for my opinion on the ultimate — I don’t want to use the word “justice.” If you’re asking for my opinion on whether this is an ideal way to live, I would tell you no. But it’s because of the depth of the disparity. Not because of its existence. I will agree that disparities will exist. I have a problem with the size of them.

Correspondent: You mention Bangladesh earlier. And this is in relation to climate change. William Nordhaus’s idea that in estimating future damages, we need to use a rate that reflects the productivity of long-term investments. Then of course, you’ve got Sir Nicholas Stern’s idea: “The welfare of a person hundreds of years from now is worth the same as as the welfare of someone alive today.” And of course, not everybody can agree on that either. Now we’re adding time to this. Even more problems. If you were to look at the history of Haiti, you see France in 1825 — they don’t wish to recognize Haiti’s sovereignty unless Haiti paid them 150 million gold francs. Haiti, of course, couldn’t pay back the money until 1947. And they had to take up long-term interest loans.

Porter: That’s incredible.

Correspondent: This is the ultimate in a big joke about price. Haiti wanted to be recognized as a nation and they have to pay this considerable amount of money. So this leads me to wonder if price — I seem to think, particularly after this conversation — is a huge mess that creates ever more problems about other viewpoints, other peoples, and simply existing. The more we think about the way money is attached to an individual person, the more we realize that certain systematic norms cause the person to be trivial. I think that’s rather sad.

Porter: The thing is that here we’re moving between senses of price that are really kind of unrelated. The purchase of Haiti’s independence, I think, has very little to do with capitalism. It has more to do with colonialism.

Correspondent: Capitalism could be argued as a strand.

Porter: But this deal could have been made outside of a capitalistic society. This deal is not a function of capitalism. It is a function of the fact that one country controlled another and would not relinquish it unless getting something in return. And in fact, this has been a characteristic of colonialism way back into pre-capitalistic times. I wonder whether you’re not attributing too much significance to the idea of price as an ultimate driver of things that functions throughout history. And always in the same way. It seems to me that when you’re talking about the price of Haiti or the price of gas or the price of milk, the processes that you’re describing, with which you arrive at this ultimate variable of price, are totally different. And the transactions that are involved are totally different. And so yes, they’re all prices of course. But I’m not sure that they’re comparable. They seem a little bit like apples to oranges.

Correspondent: Even though price has a serious consequence upon a human life in some capacity, you’re saying that it’s best to look at price in terms of who sets the price and the consequence? I think I’m looking at it consequentially and you’re looking at it from a causist standpoint.

Porter: Well, yeah. But consequentially. Let’s say clothes have enormous consequences. Lack of clothes have enormous consequences. The fact that having or not having the appropriate clothes for the appropriate weather is consequential. I’m not sure that that allows me to go any further in trying to tell me anything about the dynamic underlying clothes or the goodness of clothes. They are consequential. Sure.

The Bat Segundo Show #381: Eduardo Porter (Download MP3)

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Review: We Are What We Are (2010)

Last March, the intrepid crew behind The Barnes & Noble Review asked me to watch an extraordinary number of cannibal movies within a very short period of time. This exercise resulted in a rather pleasant throbbing in the head, a need for lengthy perambulation after all this sensory overload, a momentary recalibration of my carnivorous intake to ensure that I could sustain my passion for carne asada after seeing so many (virtual) people eaten, and this essay, in which I revealed that a cinematic genre of apparent last resort had more going for it than some of the humorless film snobs had suggested. One of the genre’s key touchstones, Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980), dared to balance bona-fide animal slaughter with the juicy theater of people having each other for dinner. And many of Deodato’s followers carried on in this bountiful spirit of authenticity, with film crews and fake books offering heft to all the baleful gustation. While mainstream cinema continues to remain comfortable with the removed feel of zombies, a decidedly more class-conscious approach to cannibalism in which one has to be bitten (a lack of personal responsibility? just one of the common rabble?) to give into these baser impulses, one wonders if we will see more knowing acts of cannibalism in multiplexes. Despite the fact that human beings are very often kind and noble, don’t we all have the capacity to be savage and vicious? And does not cannibalism offer us the most ideal narrative framework to oscillate between these two extremes? Is this not fun for the whole family?

Since money remains one of the dominant reasons that movies are made, the recent success of two Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies (a reboot that netted a $150 million worldwide gross) suggests this to be likely. But forget these crass men with the moneybags. Jorge Michel Grau’s We Are What We Are offers an unexpected alternative route for the cannibal movie’s future.

What’s quite interesting about this moody offering is that we see very few acts of chopping and cannibalism on screen. Some onyx bile regurgitated in the early minutes upon a shopping pavilion’s tile (and, with mordant wit, mopped up within minutes after the dead man is dragged away). A good deal of punching. (If you live among a family of cannibals and your dad has been dragging in a fresh body for a nightly ritual and you’re wondering when dad will kick the bucket so that you can be the paterfamilias, then it makes perfect sense that you would develop a few thuggish attempts at rabbit punches, testing them out on obnoxious guys who are trying to reclaim their broken watches.) Clumsy efforts to grab vagrant kids from beneath overpasses.

But cannibalism? Not until the very end.

I have to confess that I experienced some impatience in the film’s first hour, waiting eagerly for the dependable imagery of molars grinding human flesh and strings of meat being ripped from a flailing torso. The chops of the axe. The screams. All this reassures me! But I must greatly commend Grau for making me wait. It takes some serious guts to serve up a cannibal film prioritizing atmosphere over grindhouse. Grau is very good about balancing the frame, often pushing his subjects to the hard left or right (or occupying certain sectors in groups: see the above still) and leaving a dismaying blankness reflecting their empty future (and perhaps their empty bellies!). His interiors are often saturated with sickly shades of green, with a goopy Gordon Willis-like approach giving the movie a surprisingly dignified mien amidst all the dinginess.

The family business, as I intimated earlier, is the dying art of watchmaking. Dad, dead within the first few minutes, has been earning the bread by heading to a street vendor market and chomping on whores during his lunch hour. So there’s something of an Old World masculine vibe here. The film is often nebulous about how this strange system of providing for the family, of putting food on the table and so forth, works out. It’s implied that Dad has been providing fresh bodies, but are these bodies Dad’s whores? Mom seems to know about Dad’s whoring around, but she is strangely furious at her two boys for picking up the slack. The exact nature of the “ritual” is never entirely spelled out in the first hour. But when it is revealed, it’s somewhat of a predictable letdown.

Indeed, one frustrating aspect of Grau’s film is its behavioral incoherence. Grau has plenty of enticing visuals in his cinematic entrepot: a brother and a sister looking out the window, their entire forms beneath the drapes, as if protecting themselves from the unseen barbaric activities unfolding within; the ominous ticking of the clocks; the false sanctuary of a bathroom. But when it comes to synthesizing these visuals into character motivation, it often doesn’t pay off. Take, for example, a fifth-rate cop investigating a rash of disappearances and having some clue that will bring him to the family. This character is initially interesting in his drive for cash and his need to be famous, serving as a savage parallel in the “real” world to the “unreal” rituals in the family home. But when he is tempted too easily by an underage prostitute, these early impulses are flattened into your typical corrupt cop archetype. Or consider the sexual confusion of one of the sons when he ventures into a gay nightclub, initially distressed by some pickup grabbing him around the neck and making out with him. The son then attempts to corral his sexual ambiguity with his eating ambiguity, and his additional ambiguity over whether or not he has what it takes to take over as head of the family. Another fascinating parallel, right? Again, Grau throws this intrigue away by presenting this behavior, but not wishing to pursue its dimensions.

Of course, when one looks at the film’s title, this may be part of the point. Perhaps the audience is meant to reckon with bad behavior with only superficial context, thus stubbing out judgment before it can bury its barnacles into our being. But if you have the chops to present a subhuman impulse with visual nuance, why stop there? I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for Jorge Michel Grau’s work in the future. But I hope he has the courage to be more than what he thinks he is.

The Bat Segundo Show: Toby Ball

Toby Ball appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #380. He is most recently the author of The Vaults.

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Spilling green ink all over the public records.

Author: Toby Ball

Subjects Discussed: The descriptive connection between sound and voice, Ball’s background in teaching, envisioning a scene before writing it, devising a 1935 parallel universe, alternative forms of photography, prethinking information technology, children who intrude upon the conversation and ask about the microphones, telling an old-fashioned pulp yarn, the Berlin Document Center, the Nora chapters as placeholders within The Vaults, the frantic qualities of pulp literature, characters locked in location, Hard Case Crime, Nicholson Baker’s Room Temperature, detecting another person’s typing from observing the strokes, keylogging, Suge Knight as inspiration, the Anti-Subversive Unit inspired by 9/11 propaganda, designing a three book arc, Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, marijuana cigarettes, Hearst and the criminalization of marijuana, mentioning alternative countries (Poland, et al.) instead of the key players in World War II, the city as physical space, ideological information, character life that comes from specific limitations in vernacular, turning a preexisting rumor into narrative fodder, working at Congressional Quarterly, Red Henry’s mistress reading Nietzsche, and tight consequential corners.


Correspondent: It is interesting how the voice — somebody’s voice — tends to be imposing. More so than the bigness of Big Henry and the like. It’s very interesting to me that sound seems to be the linchpin. Particularly because the technology in this book is rather interesting. I mean, here we are roughly around 1935. A little parallel universe. And we don’t really have motion pictures. We have some possible version of photography with the replacement system that comes in the Vaults. And that’s why it is very interesting to me why sound is such an important quality. It’s almost as if sound in your world matters more than image to a large degree.

Ball: That’s an interesting idea. And I think a lot of the book is about information. Both the information that is overt and then there’s a certain amount of information that has to be gleaned from other pieces of information. And I think that the idea that people can assert powers in ways other than the physical or through violence or through having political power or whatever sometimes comes through. Certainly with your ability to dominate things vocally. Maybe not even verbally. You don’t have to necessarily have a great way with words. But if you can take up more space around you than the other person to serve as an alpha male thing, I guess.

Correspondent: Well, did you prethink any of the technology in the book? Or for that matter any of the history? We do have allusions to the Great War. We also have the Birthday Party Massacre, which is both a funny and a grisly idea. And it makes me wonder whether you had any masterplan for this alternative history or you were inventing things and filling in the gaps as you went along?

Ball: Well, what I was most interested in, I think, was how do you organize information. And because of that, it had to be before a certain period. Say the 1960s. And moving it back to the ’30s and combining it with these ideas we have about the ’20s and ’30s gangs, and things like that, I think that that was the first step in doing it. But I also wanted to create a complicated and…

[Two children walk up to the table and start staring intently at the microphones.]

Child #1: Where did you get that?

Correspondent: Well, hi.

Ball: Hi.

Correspondent: There’s a…

Ball: The microphones?

Correspondent: Yes, the microphones. You can get these microphones at just about any audio place. We have a child here who’s decided to…(laughs). Hi. What’s your name?

Child #2: (more aggressively) Where’d you get that?

Correspondent: Well, we got these through — I got these through an audio supplier. So.

Ball: Pretty cool.

Correspondent: But anyway, you were saying?

Ball: Well…

Correspondent: We have an audience. (laughs)

Ball: We have an audience of two. So from there, while I kind of wrote and sort of developed some more things I was interested in writing about, I think that’s where things kind of move on. What’s the importance of having accurate information? What’s the value of that? What can you get by taking discreet facts? And simply by organizing them, by insuring their purity, how does that in itself become information? And to try and combine that with — you know, I think there’s a certain fun aspect to the ’20s and ’30s. Where you can get this noir-y feel abut things. To a certain extent, the book has to be fun too. You have to want to read it, and the atmosphere, and things like that. Does that kind of answer your question?

Correspondent: It sort of does. I think what I’m also kind of curious about — since you are talking about information as a starting point, when did you drift off this focus on information and more into just telling a good old-fashioned pulp yarn?

Child #1: (still enraptured by microphones) Do those really work?

Correspondent: Yes, they do.

Ball: Yup, they work.

The Bat Segundo Show #380: Toby Ball (Download MP3)

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Review: Certifiably Jonathan (2007)

Jonathan Winters has an inviting interstate of a pure American face etched in pure pouches and clover dimples that, aside from the inevitable swelling of age, has changed very little in the past fifty years. He conveys jokes with the deceptively leisurely delivery of your grandfather telling you a tall tale. These two qualities, also shared by the great actor Walter Matthau, may have taken you far as a comedian or a light entertainment actor in the 1950s or the 1960s. But the 21st century’s less elastic notions of masculinity and comedy no longer allow for such talents to persevere.

This is a great shame. Because James David Pasternak’s flawed but fairly entertaining mockumentary Certifiably Jonathan (only just being released in New York, despite being in the can for four years) shows that the old man still has it.

The film opens with Winters sitting in a makeup chair, preparing for a talk show appearance. He asks the makeup lady how long she’s been married. “Twenty years,” she replies. “Well,” Winters improvises, “there’s no sense in getting out if you’ve been in that long. It’s a disease that doesn’t go away.”

Now if you laugh at that answer (and I certainly did), you’re probably over the age of 35 and you’re probably going to enjoy Pasternak’s little movie for what it is. While Certifiably Jonathan makes several disastrous attempts at low-rent improvisational Curb Your Enthusiasm-style scenes featuring Winters refusing to leave Jeffrey Tambor’s home, Winters golfing with Ryan Stiles, Winters with Sarah Silverman at the video store, and every member of the Arquette family who has ever worked in the acting business, it does succeed as a somewhat accidental chronicle of changes in contemporary comedy.

Winters, incidentally, was married to Eileen Schauder for 61 years (until her death in 2009). She’s seen in the film twice: young and dutiful in an archival clip and, in recent years, where she and Winters are sleeping in different rooms. “She snores,” quips Winters, who then commends the many pictures of himself in his room and the fact that they can both appreciate different Presidents this way. Much like his face, Winters’s comedy before the camera is like a familiar friend who hasn’t changed too much over the decades. His wife, on the other hand, wants the cameras to go away by the time Pasternak comes around.

The film’s “story” is about Winters trying to pursue a late-life art career. But as Winters’s website reveals, he’s actually been painting for quite some time. His art, featuring frequent coat hangers and neatly aligned bunches of blunt metaphors, has been making the rounds since the 1970s.

When the film forces Winter to be funny, it is uninteresting. Pasternak, a man who cannot carry a convincing screen moment to save his life, has this obnoxious tendency to want to “act” with Winters. And one greatly wishes that Pasternak had blown his vanity on a midlife crisis Camaro rather than taking the spotlight away from an underrated comedic legend.

What Pasternak does not understand is that Winters is simply funny, and especially funny when Certifiably Jonathan enlists old television clips. There’s one clip featuring a series of improvisations with a stick that uses the same comic science that Robin Williams famously employed with a pink scarf on Inside the Actors Studio. Both Winters and Williams are funny. But Winters came first. I can’t find the specific Winters clip Pasternak uses on YouTube, but this marvelous clip of Winters monkeying around with a pen and pencil sit should give you an idea just how much debt Williams owes Winters. At one point in the film, Winters confesses that Williams gave him an $8,000 watch as a gift. “He should,” says Winters. “He stole a lot of my material.”

Pasternak does manage to get Williams and Winters together for a number of scenes. But strangely enough, Winters has better chemistry with the tremendously underappreciated Howie Mandel when the two men are running around a Target. The footage appears to have been shot shortly before Mandel sold out to become a game show host (and who can blame him? Mandel almost quit showbiz in 2004), but Mandel squeezes his entire body into a shopping cart and is just as quick with the quips as Winters. These two men want to make each other look good. And that’s what great comedy is about.

Jonathan Winters certainly deserves a first-rate documentary. I don’t think this one entirely cuts the mustard, but better Certifiably something than nothing.

The Bat Segundo Show: Karen Russell

Karen Russell appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #379. She is most recently the author of Swamplandia!

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Wrestling alligators that the mean men left in his motel room.

Author: Karen Russell

Subjects Discussed: How “Ava Wrestles the Alligator” transformed into Swamplandia!, origin stories of characters, expanding and embroidering, the tradition of underworld stories, Dante’s percolating possibilities, heroic kids and their totem animals, the River Styx, the Seven Remaining Houses in Stiltsville, bookmobiles as boats, Kiwi as autodidact versus Ava as experiential learner, siblings as id, ego, and the superego, torturing characters, the risks of diverging from the established text, how Russell arranges her ideas, dealing with the constant froth of ideas, the way that time and space relates to the body, writerly tics, the dangers of the word “limn,” the many alligators named Seth, characters who share names close to the writers Louis Auchincloss and Emily Barton, the health benefits associated with not looking back, sentences ending with exclamation marks, child neglect and the places where protective services can’t reach, the early introductions to Sesame Street, grief and denial, “printing the legend,” the amusement park competition between Swamplandia! and World of Darkness, Adventureland, the scarcity of quirky plots, optimistic delusions and the dangers of uncritical faith, belief in the dead as a fantasy, managing opposing fantastical virtues while finding parallels between Ava and Kiwi, the naivete of employing Max Weber’s values in the contemporary world, egotism and genius, including blanks within sentences, knowing the “music” of your own home phone number, facing the blank page, working with Jordan Pavlin, pop culture in Pavlin-edited novels, and fighting for expletives.


Russell: The sprawl. This mimetic mangrove sprawl! I really got carried away with that place. I loved that setting and could see it so clearly. I wanted to just expand and embroider in a way. My agent and editor suggested that I do some serious paring down to what ends up being the dramatic action with Ava and Ossie. And then that just did not seem the plateau to keep those sisters on. I ended up feeling very frightened for Ossie and Ava, and disturbed about both sisters. And I think at a certain point I decided it was going to be an underworld story. I thought it was going to be this underworld Odyssey. There’s a nice tradition to work in there. (laughs)

Correspondent: Certainly.

Russell: That’s not copyrighted by Persephone.

Correspondent: No lawyers involved.

Russell: (laughs) Yeah, right. Don’t tell the Greeks.

Correspondent: Well, on the other hand, by explicitly referencing the River Styx — as you do about 150, maybe 200 pages into the book — I said to myself as I was reading this, “Oh, why did she have to go ahead and do that?” Because it’s nice to have the reader infer, “Oh!”

Russell: To trust.

Correspondent: “A River Styx-like metaphor.” I’m wondering if, in relying upon a myth like that, there is a danger in being too explicit. On the other hand, a reader can infer almost a Huck Finn-style situation as well.

Russell: Right.

Correspondent: What of this conundrum?

Russell: I really didn’t want it to be a one-to-one correspondence with any one of those stories. Although I’m sure they’re just in our bloodstream. Huck Finn and, as you say, the Odyssey. Dante. I think all of that was definitely percolating. But I think it’s dangerous to say, “Right. This is going to be Hamlet. But in the voice of a parrot!” Any way it reads just as that very direct correspondence.

Correspondent: Yeah. But at some point the decision was made to reference the River Styx.

Russell: Yeah. Well, my thinking there was that Ava, this child, is so glutted on those exact stories. Both the Yearling kinds of tales about heroic kids and their totem animals or whatever, and also the older myths. These older fairy tales. So the River Styx would be something from The Spiritualist Telegraph, which is a book that her sister has found on this wrecked Library Boat. That the kids are autodidacts. They are home-schooled on this island and they go to this wrecked Library Boat to get this magpie view of the reality outside their island. So they do have these piecemeal references coming in. And so much of her vision of the world is by analogy. It’s through the lens of these fairy tales and myths that he’s reading. I didn’t want people — but I do think it’s a danger. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I’m doing in the octave of the swamp.

Correspondent: Sure.

Russell: Hades.

Correspondent: Well, there is definitely a Stilsville. There’s seven remaining homes. I’m wondering if there was actually a Library Boat system similar to the Bookmobiles. I didn’t get a chance to actually delve into this. I was trying to look around. Because that really captured my imagination.

Russell: No! Wouldn’t that be great?

Correspondent: It would be fantastic!

Russell: What a great idea!

Correspondent: It would make complete sense in an archipelago.

Russell: I’m saying. Get some government funding. I think it would be so wonderful. And I ended up excising a lot of material about in the Library Boat.

Correspondent: Really?

Russell: That didn’t belong. But I thought just because I’m a nerdy bookworm, my god, that would have been my paradise. If there was a wrecked ship full of books. No librarians to nose around what you were reading. You could just take and go. And I love the idea that people would come and leave books. Which, you know, is the system that exists. But there would just be a book with a constantly evolving library.

Correspondent: Add Borges on top of that. Then you’ve got a really interesting idea. (laughs)

Russell: Oh yeah. Get Borges to captain that boat. Seriously.

Correspondent: Well, we got in a bit of a flurry here from the original trajectory. But Kiwi. I’m curious how Kiwi came to life in this. Because he starts off being a side character. And then he becomes, well, this is the other side of the story. And as we pointed out earlier, he’s not in the original story [“Ava Wrestles an Alligator”].

Russell: Right.

Correspondent: Why Kiwi above anybody else? Or rather above Ossie, who just disappears entirely? Because it is interesting that Kiwi is more of an autodidact where Ava is more of an experiential learner.

Russell: That’s beautiful.

Correspondent: And I’m curious about how this came into being.

Russell: Oh, I’m so glad that she reads that way to you. I was thinking the two sisters — you have Ossie, who is the book’s unconscious. I mean, she is totally merged with her idea of herself. This clairvoyant psychic experience. She goes way off the deep end into the occult. And then Ava, I think she’s on a plateau where she hasn’t really committed to any one way of seeing. She’s seduced by this world of the ghosts. But I wanted her to be one more voice, one more force. I almost wanted to think of these three siblings as the superego, the ego, the unconscious almost. Because Kiwi is this hyperarticulate. Self-identifies as a genius. Knows lots of big words, but mispronounces them.

Correspondent: Now, now. Schematic though.

Russell: Thinks meningitis is a compliment. Right. So he has this idea of himself as a really literate, really astute reader. An adult reader of the world. So he is, in many cases, a voice of reason. And I think Ava toggles between these two views. She’s got her brother, her older brother, who’s more rooted in reality. Informed by the mainland. Albeit, also at the same time, stunted and naive. Because he’s grown up on this island forty miles away from the mainland. And then she has this sister, who is this frightening lost character. Sort of deranged character. I don’t know if that answers your question. But I wanted Kiwi because the book really needs a character to work in a more comic register.

Correspondent: To torture. As you did.

Russell: Well, I do in fact torture him?

Correspondent: Yeah.

Russell: Well, I don’t think that I torture him. I think that I just put him in a situation among mainland teenagers and then watch what unfolds.

The Bat Segundo Show #379: Karen Russell (Download MP3)

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The Postman Always Rings Twice (Modern Library #98)

(This is the third entry in the The Modern Library Reading Challenge, an ambitious project to read the entire Modern Library from #100 to #1. Previous entry: The Ginger Man)

When I was a shy stripling new to San Francisco, there were three writers who showed me the way to manhood: James Baldwin, Henry Miller, and James M. Cain. Baldwin was angry for being the other, but with very good reason. Miller was playful (and often indignant) for being the other, but his “other” was narrow and individual. Not a cult of one, but not the kind of guy to easily integrate into a Western Union desk job. Hence, the writing life. Hence, poverty. Bless both gentlemen for their eccentricities. I’m not being hyperbolic when I state that I couldn’t have survived my early twenties without them. And bless the Modern Library for including both of these writers on its list. I look forward to revisiting them.

But I’m here to square things away with the third guy. James M. Cain may have been quieter than the first two, but he was just as interested in those primal emotions hidden beneath apparent equipoise. Cain’s rudderless drifters, often without funds, kept their knowledge and skills to themselves, perhaps because their talents weren’t nearly as great as they figured or, when brushing up against cold hard cash, they simply didn’t blend well. (See, for example, the Mexicali poolroom incident in The Postman Always Rings Twice.) Lacking any direct line to an indispensable quality, these heroes hoped to get by through decisiveness, no-bullshit assertiveness, and clever banter. It helped tremendously that Cain, who came from journalism, was a master of smooth muscular prose. You’d be hard-pressed to find an extraneous word in any of his hard-boiled sentences. (In Postman, “I had her” is the last sentence of the eighth chapter. And I’m guessing that’s likely to be the most succinct sentence I ever encounter in the Modern Library Reading Challenge.) But Cain’s great joke was that this resigned approach often led his heroes into murders, insurance scams, or lustful traps.

Was this punishment? I didn’t see any of this as a Puritanical racket. Still don’t from my more adult vantage point. No need to wear a scarlet A in the Cain universe. You’d get yours eventually if you didn’t appreciate your good fortune. And even if you managed to fool everybody most of the time, there was always someone out there who pulled a faster gun. And who knew how far up the chain it went?

“Chambers, I think this is the last murder you’ll have a hand in for some time, but if you ever try another, for God’s sake leave insurance companies out of it. They’ll spend five times as much as Los Angeles County will let me put on a case.”

Cain was pure opera. It’s there in Postman‘s elaborate explanation of the Pacific States Accident policy:

He told what it covered, how the Greek would get $25 a week for 52 weeks if he got sick, and the same if he got hurt in an accident so he couldn’t work, and how he would get $5,000 if he lost one limb, and $10,000 if he lost two limbs, and how his widow would get $10,000 if he was killed in an accident, and $20,000 if the accident was on a railroad train. When he got that far it began to sound like a sales talk, and the magistrate held up his hand.

In other words, the “sales talk,” the act of setting down the terms (or even outlining the way the world works), is in and of itself an operatic gesture. Yet from the other side of the 2008 economic clusterfuck, Cain’s spiels appear as sensible as a straightforward mom-and-pop lease that’s less about profit and more about everybody getting a fair shake. This may explain, in part, why David Mamet was enlisted to write the screenplay for the surprisingly subpar 1981 Bob Rafelson film adaptation. By the way, I’m not a fan of the 1946 version with Lana Turner, pictured above, and John Garfield. It’s probably because I encountered Cain in books first. On the page, Cain’s intensity, however melodramatic, felt real — in large part because Cain let you in on the mechanics. (It’s not much of a surprise for anyone to learn that Cain did an uncredited rewrite on Out of the Past, another noir masterpiece.) On the big screen, with the exception of Billy Wilder’s extraordinary Double Indemnity, Cain’s books transformed into entertaining but easy camp. One need look no further than Joan Crawford’s Mildred Pierce to see the problem. (There is presently a Mildred Pierce miniseries being made by Todd Haynes. It will be most interesting to see how Haynes approaches this problem.)

It’s also there in Serenade, a wonderful cultured tough guy novel that doesn’t get nearly the same respect afforded to Postman and Double Indemnity:

There was an outdoor performance of Carmen that night at the Hollywood Bowl, at a dollar and a half top but with some seats at seventy-five cents, so of course we had to go. If you want to know where to find an opera singer the night some opera is being given you’ll find him right there, and no other place. A baseball player, for some reason, prefers a ball game.

Yeah, I know I’m supposed to be writing about The Postman Always Rings Twice. But can you think of any fiction of the time (1937!) that was so transparent about the cultural class divide?

At nineteen, I was quietly angry and vocally playful. I didn’t want people to know what I knew, because I wasn’t sure it had any bearing on what I was supposed to be. (And, boy, was I wrong!) I felt misunderstood, yet I often talked down hotheads from beating each other up and people told me their stories. I was often confused as some guy in his thirties by way of a vocabulary I picked up from books and British friends and from careful listening. So Cain completed the holy trinity when I first read Postman by accident, picked up at random from a library. I was floored by the way Cain laid it out in that famous first paragraph:

They threw me off the hay truck about noon. I had swung on the night before, down at the border, and as soon as I got up there under the canvas, I went to sleep. I needed plenty of that, after three weeks in Tia Juana, and I was still getting it when they pulled off to one side to let the engine cool. I tried some comical stuff, but all I got was a dead pan, so that gag was out. They gave a cigarettes, though, and I hiked down the road to find something to eat.

Very early in this website’s history (January 15, 2004, to be precise), I rewrote that passage in first person plural to protest the then omnipresence of the McSweeney’s “we.” (Yes, Virginia, there was a time in which Joshua Ferris was just some advertising copy writer.) I’ve since loosened up about first person plural — especially since we are blessed with such great novels as Hannah Pittard’s The Fates Will Find Their Way (published only last week!).

But however you roll on the question of “we,” straight declarative punch — particularly punch that is this compact and that instantly throws you into the story — is never a bad thing. My nineteen-year-old self considered Cain to be fiction’s answer to Samuel Fuller’s filmmaking theory: “Grab ’em by the balls.” Yet Cain got there first. I set out to read everything he’d ever written.

I remember an expedition to the now defunct McDonald’s Books on Turk Street. I walked past transgender prostitutes propositioning me into a redolent and wildly unorganized used bookstore then legendary among a certain cultured underground type that one can no longer find. McDonald’s was a crumbling place with stacks of old magazines you couldn’t find in any library and the stink of old books sullied by bodily fluids from years before. This was not a place for neat freaks or the prissy. You really had to love books. From a hygienic standpoint, one had to be careful. But I found several volumes of Cain here. This included a hardcover called The Baby in the Icebox, which I still have. Any guy writing a story with that title was jake with me.

My Cain mania caused me to read the man’s canon again after I read through it once before. “I don’t think there’s ever been a man so moony that a little bit of chill didn’t come over him as soon as a woman said yes,” wrote Cain in Serenade. Being shy at the time, especially in relation to women, and not having a father figure, it was a revelation to see these feelings, which embarrassed me, presented in such a bold and confident manner. And I remain convinced that, had it not been for Cain, I would not have the effrontery that I have now.

But that was many years ago. Until the Modern Library Reading Challenge, I hadn’t thought to read Cain again, although I did buy a number of his books for nervous younger friends. A few weeks ago, I picked up the beat-up paperback for the first time in fifteen years.

“Rip me! Rip me!”

I ripped her. I shoved my hand in her blouse and jerked she was wide open, from her throat to her belly.

Eat your heart out, Harlequin. I was amazed that I had forgotten much of this. And yet within the novel’s context, it works. For Frank Chambers, the drifter skipping around the nation (“Kansas City? New York? New Orleans? Chicago?” “I’ve seen them all.”), isn’t strictly a primal lowlife who starts working at a gas station and contrives to kill Nick Papadakis (the owner) because he wants to get Cora Papadakis’s pants. This template has been repeated a thousand times over, but many of the hacks who ripped off Cain forget his nuances. Frank has a respect for Papadakis. “He never did anything to me,” says Frank to Cora early on. “He’s all right.” Yet despite this rational thinking, Frank allows lust to overcome him. (Good Lord, did I actually use The Postman Always Rings Twice as an example when, at the age of twenty-two, I talked with a married man who was trying to figure out why he remained more committed to his adulterous affairs? I did.) Even when Frank gets away with murder, he has a self-sabotage streak. He rolls out of town and chases tail. He protests some beer developments that makes the roadside gas station money. Why is lust such a draw for Frank? Is it because he’s easily bored? Because he doesn’t know how to settle down?

This time around, I found myself looking at Postman more from Cora’s perspective than Frank’s. What isn’t Frank telling us about Cora? For a woman who protests about Nick so much, why doesn’t she just leave? After all, isn’t that just as easy as carrying on an affair with some stranger coming in off the road?

“I loved you. I would love you without even a shirt. I would love you specially without a shirt, so that I could feel how nice and hard your shoulders are.”

If Frank is tinkering with his memory (and, given the final chapter’s revelation, he’s certainly in a rush to tell his story), then, even accounting for the intense language exchanged during vigorous banging, this dialogue from Cora seems more like an unreal fantasy. Especially since Frank is careful to inform us at an inquest that he’s telling “a cock-eyed story I was going to take back later on, when we got to a place where it really meant something.” But if Cora is being idealized, then does Frank’s story within Postman “really mean something?” Perhaps the story means more in what it doesn’t tell us.

The best rereads are those books that cause you to recognize certain changes within yourself. If you have nearly the same reaction years later, chances are that the author didn’t have much in the way of ambition. After reading Postman for the third time, I’m now wondering who Frank Chambers will be when I read him fifteen years from now.

Next Up: Paul Bowles’s The Sheltering Sky.

The Bat Segundo Show: Jessie Sholl

Jessie Sholl appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #378. She is most recently the author of Dirty Secret. Ms. Sholl will also be appearing at the Barnes & Noble Tribeca on Wednesday, February 2nd, at 7:00 PM.

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Packing his rats before they rat his pack.

Author: Jessie Sholl

Subjects Discussed: [List forthcoming]


Sholl: Her job was affected by her hoarding in the way that her brain was affected by her hoarding. In the way that her brain causes the hoarding. Because she just wasn’t able to keep up. She wasn’t able to organize the tasks. And so she wasn’t able to complete them on time. So she would clock out when her shift was done, and she would continue doing the tasks. She would keep working for an hour or two off the clock. She kept getting into trouble for that. And also, in the book, I think she’s 63 at that point. She’s about four foot ten. And she weighs about 200 pounds. So she’s very cumbersome. And she was slow. She was just really slow. So most of the people she was working with were in their twenties and thirties. She just couldn’t keep up. So I don’t even know how much of it was the organization problems in her brain or how much of it was just, physically, she was just old and slow.

Correspondent: Absolutely. But there wasn’t any real disparity between the hoarding impulse at home and the nursing impulse at work? Being a nurse and all that.

Sholl: Yeah. That’s one thing that I found really interesting when I started doing this research. And also when I joined the Children of Hoarders support group. It’s amazing how many hoarders are nurses. And that just blew me away. I feel that it has something to do with — okay, another statistic about hoarding is that many hoarders were abused as children. And a lot of times, when someone is really abused as a child, they get something called a caretaking syndrome. Where they like to take care. This happens quite a lot with animal hoarders. That’s what animal hoarding often is. They want to take care of something that’s helpless, something that cannot reject them. Because they got no care as a child. They got just coldness. Which is what my mother had. And so personally — now I am not a doctor. This hasn’t been studied that I know of. But that’s my own theory. And I think that that’s the reason for the high rate of nurses. When they go to work, they are caring for someone. So these are people that, they can’t really take care of their children. But they can take care of a person in a hospital.

Correspondent: You mentioned abuse earlier and how that tends to be a way, that it carries on. Late in this book, you have a situation where your mother confesses to you that her own parents abused her with dogs. She, in turn, I would say, abused you with the snakes. You have a fear of snakes. She sent you down to the basement, pretending that there were snakes down there. She sent you packages with fake snakes. She put rubber snakes in your Christmas stockings. You know, this strikes me as something that is tremendously abusive. The question is: Even though she can relate to the abuse in terms of her own abuse, from years before, do you think she really understands the nature of what she’s doing when she taunts you with the snakes? Is it abuse?

Sholl: No, I don’t. I think she truly believes that it’s funny. And that’s one of the things about my mom. She’ll have a moment of clarity — and this is why it took me so long to finally just give up and throw up my hands. I mean, we still have a relationship. But I’m done fixing her. Trying to fix her. I’m done cleaning our house. All of that. But one of the reasons that it took me so long to do it is because she’s a smart woman. She has a good sense of humor a lot of the time. She’s well read. We talk about books. And she’ll have a moment of clarity where I’ll feel a connection. And so it was those moments of clarity and those moments of connection that gave me this taste of what it could really be like. And that made it hard to stop. But eventually I did. Anyway, back to your question about the snakes. I have seen tiny glimmers of “Oh, wow, maybe I should not tease Jessie anymore about snakes.” But you know what? If I got a package in the mail tomorrow from my mother, I would make my husband open it. Because I could not be sure that it wasn’t another snake.

Correspondent: Well, on that subject, there’s a moment in the book where you say there are still things about her that make you happy. It seems to me that these are related to these glimmers. But reading the book, I was almost at a loss sometimes to determine what it was about your mother that made you very happy. Because she’s constantly abusive. I haven’t even brought up the scabies situation, which I’ll get into in just a bit. It’s almost that by writing the book, you’ve got a challenge here. Because you’re depicting her problem and it may come at the expense — there’s one moment where you say that there are things she does that make me happy. But what are those? I didn’t really get that from the book.

Sholl: Well, you know, we can have very lively fun telephone conversations. She really is a charming person. I mean, when my husband first met her, I was so terrified to introduce her to him. I was just terrified that he would judge me and decide that he didn’t want to be with me, and whatever. And he said, “She’s cute. She’s adorable.” And there is that side to her.

Correspondent: But just these telephone conversations? Just this charisma? Isn’t it actions that make you happy? Because happiness for another person, or fondness for another person, or love for another person comes down to gesture and action. Not necessarily words.

Sholl: No, that’s a good point. You know, I think a lot of times the love is there. Because she’s my mother. And I just can’t help it. I just can’t help but care about her. We have a very unusual relationship. Definitely.

Correspondent: You’ve used the word “acceptance.” But what about forgiveness? Do you forgive your mother?

Sholl: Yes, I do.

Correspondent: You do?

Sholl: Well…

Correspondent: It’s okay if you don’t. I don’t forgive my mother, if you want to get down to it.

Sholl: I’ve never even thought about that before. I don’t know why I’ve never thought about that. You know, I can point to individual things. The scabies. I have forgiven her. I have never been so angry in my life when we got them the second time. And she refused initially to help. To get medicine. But I did eventually forgive her. Some of it was just time passing. I guess, for me, forgiving my mom is just accepting her.

The Bat Segundo Show #378: Jessie Sholl (Download MP3)

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