I mailed the Prince of Tides to a stranger.
It was an incredible experience. If you haven’t tried it, if you’ve worried that you won’t get any books yourself, if you fear getting caught up as a pawn in someone else’s game, rest assured, you will have the time of your life in sending a book to a stranger. I did.
First, there was the entire day I spent telling everyone about the books rated high enough to be sent. It was fabulous. I held people hostage as I extolled the virtues of Of Human Bondage. People told me about their favorite books too. We talked about Jane Austen, we discussed apologetics, we are argued philosophy, we trashed comic book movies in favor of graphic novels.
Second, I whisked my fella away on the best date night ever. We walked into the local, independent bookstore, promptly went in separate directions, and spent hours in our respective sections. I started with the bestsellers. Being out of the game so to speak, I like to peruse what’s new. I sent one of my best friends a photo of the new book by the same author that did Where’d You Go, Bernadette. She has also been out of the game a while, but she had recommended the book to me with close to a five-star rating, which is unusual for her. She hadn’t heard of the newest publication either. It tickled me to ferret out something shiny for someone else.
I browsed the used section. I discovered two used copies of Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? I read Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help a few years ago, it was incredible. I proceeded to give it to all my best friends. Usually, as they teetered on the edge of existential crisis. Which is perfect for meeting someone who understands so completely and immerses, themselves in where you are in your head. But apparently, it isn’t “helpful” so much as push-you-over-the-cliff dangerous. Since then I’ve been strongly discouraged from recommendations during turbulent times. Also, they all loved her work and want to own their own copies of the short story. All that said, Self-Help is the only book I’ve read of Lorrie Moore’s. I’ve never even considered looking for more. I was elated. I picked up three more, I’m sure you’ll meet them in due time.
I spent $17 on a brand new book for someone else. More than my three used books combined. It was worth every penny. I also got out, talked with employees about what they’ve read of Conroy, I talked with my boyfriend about books, we read together while deciding next to a little fireplace in the cafe. The evening was a dream. At the end, I got Black Cherry Ice Cream to finish the night. Perfection.
I spent the next night painting the old Esso ad Put A Tiger In Your Tank. It’s shown up in two books I’ve really enjoyed. The other one being 1Q84. I figure that must make the ad at least partly literary.
Then, two days later, I had a magnificent walk at sunset to the post office. Normally, I’d stay home but I had a reason to get out and socialize. The weather was ideal.
Since then I’ve waited with anticipation to see what my stranger thought. I stalked on facebook but if she commented it wasn’t public. I’ve been too self-conscious to friend her or ask our mutual friend.