Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Yarn Store

Way down south where my in-laws live, there’s a little store stacked among a dozen others like a slew of old paperbacks on a shelf. And speaking of old paperbacks, that’s what this store specializes in. That, and selling yarn by the furlong.

Seriously. The store has two floors; the second looks down upon the ground floor like a courtyard. Upstairs there are about a dozen or so shelves of books which spill down the stairway and one wall of the first floor. The rest of the space is occupied with all things yarnish and knitty. I didn’t inventory this section of the store, but I seem to recall peripherally glimpsing balls or cylinders of yarn of every color, books and bags of patterns, needles for knitting, and frames to display finished products. And chairs for the local knitting club to socialize.

I’ve been to the store at least four times. Every annual trip down to the wife’s folks I find an excuse to visit. The paperback prices are literally dirt cheap. Whatever that phrase means, the prices of the used books in this store embodies it. It has to cost more to heat and light the 18 cubic inches yer average paperback takes up than the price they want you to pay for it. It’s amazing. I had no idea that yarn was such a cash cow.

So the first day we’re down there, I disappear with the car while C, Nana, and the Little One are at the pool and motor down to my yarn emporium. I park and saunter up to the door, excitement tingling throughout my body. Yeah, I’m a book nerd, big time. I open the door, and then –

Six matronly ladies stop mid-sentence and glare at me.

“Hello,” I stammer. “I’m going to look for a book.”

It appears I interrupted their jawboning session, and I can feel the stares into my back as I walk to the rear of the store and walk up the flight of stairs to the cool books sections. Once I’m up there, and only once I’m up there, does their conversation resume, this time in soft distrustful tones. Seems Clara’s talking about how it took her all spring to knit a Chinese relaxation symbol. Well, it wasn’t that relaxing while she was knitting it. In a few minutes they’re chatting and chuckling away, but I still have that odd sensation I’m being watched. I try to scan the shelves as nonchalantly as possible.

I picked up three books for – get this – $2.10. Seventy cents a book – how can you beat that? Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, which I’m going to review for tomorrow, was a great, fast, poolside read. Always wanted to read RLS prose, having read some of his poetry and enjoyed it. A guilty read in that it’s aimed at a more youthful reader than myself and it in no way will improve me as a person or as a writer. But sometimes those guilty pleasures are the best reads, especially on vacation. And after reading She and Kim last summer, I’ve discovered I like reading these classics. They’re called classics for a reason, I’ve found out.

Also picked up two SFs that have been on my master acquisition list for a few years: This Immortal, the Hugo Award-winning novel by Roger Zelazny, and Altered States, the novelization of the infamous 1979 movie, by Paddy Chayefsky. Both will go on the stack of To-Dos on the shelf behind me as I type this.

The girls got me a gift card from Barnes and Noble for Father’s Day. Now, coincidence of coincidences, there’s a B&N just across the street from our hotel on HHI! So, Sunday we drove over and I picked up the Gribbin book on superstring theory. Gribbin is a guy I love to hate, or hate to love. His writing, to me, simultaneously frustrates and satisfies. It’s hard to explain. Way back when I decided to go to Seton Hall to study physics, his In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat was very influential to me in a similar way. But I’m currently highly interested in SUSY, and as of this writing I’m halfway through the book. Perhaps a post later down the line.

Finally, Nana’s library was having a book sale, so I just had to stop by. This time on the last day of our stay. Here, too, the books were all a-cheap, so I brung the Little One with me, and we picked up a total of seven books for $4.50. Among my finds was Before the Golden Age, an anthology of a half-dozen pre-1940 classic SF novellas edited by Isaac Asimov.

I also picked up A History of Philosophy vol 2: Medieval Philosophy, by the mighty Frederick Coppleston, SJ. It mostly focuses on Tommy Aquinas (boy, I’m channeling Dennis Miller this post), but it also highlights his immediate predecessors and successors.

The last purchase was a hardcover entitled Chess: The Way to Win. Periodically I get interested in chess; I have a buddy who plays, and we usually play eight or ten matches a year, with me winning only a third of the time. I bought this to rekindle that interest, and because I liked the title. It’s better than Chess: The Way to Kill Time and Chess: The Way to Maddenly Almost Not-Lose.

Yeah, my vacation was great. Thanks, yarn store! (and thanks, girls, and HHI Public Library!)


Anonymous said...

Still haven't found that old Science book discarded from the Dixon Homestead, eh? Always...

LE said...

No ... but I did look for it. If any place would have it, it would be the yarn store.