Feeling a little at loose ends without pressing deadlines, and having starved myself of frivolous book purchases these past five months, I tore myself from launderess duties and headed for St. Anthony Village, that charming St. Paul neighborhood. I had a short list of a titles that I’ve read about recently and have become obsessed with. There's no more perfect a place to shop than a local independent bookstore. Thank goddess we still have two in St. Paul.
Owners Tom and Hans—who are friends from my book rep days when I called on them at Hungry Mind/Ruminator—resurrected dusty Micawber’s, in 2003. In almost no time at all, the two bookselling pros cleared out all the old books (I swear Norton, the previous owner and a friend, never pulled a return) and loaded shelves and display tables with the latest handpicked titles.
Micawber’s, consequently, is one of my favorite bookstores to browse. Inevitably, in the course of a visit, I pick up far too many books to purchase. On this visit, even though I didn’t find the books I was looking for, I also didn’t walk out of the store empty-handed. I picked up a remaindered hardcover copy of The Boat, Nam Le’s critically acclaimed debut story collection. While I was browsing, Hans kindly loaded my arms with a few advanced reading copies of spring titles. He suggested leaving them behind on my travels. Planting the seeds, as it were.
Of these books, I’m most excited about Monique Truong’s Bitter in the Mouth, which is her follow up to The Book of Salt. And, I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised by Michelle Hoover’s first novel The Quickening, which is published by small Other Press and got a strong Margot Livesey cover quote. But Deirdre Madden’s Molly Fox’s Birthday, a finalist for the Orange Prize, is also promising. It’s a Picador paperback original, and I happen to know a thing or two about these, having worked for Picador as it was started up.
Overall, a wonderful visit for the books in hand as well as those added to my TBR list. Plus, it was really good to share some chit-chat with Hans and Karen, with whom I worked at Odegard’s, twenty years ago…gadzooks.
I love what this store is doing and hope that it will be around for a long time. Please support Micawber’s!