I found The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (Pulitzer winner 1994) at the Book Trader in Minneapolis. My husband had spied the store as we were driving to a friend’s house (I don’t know how I missed it!), and bless his heart, he turned around and escorted me into literary euphoria. I was greeted by that old, musty, used book smell that I’ve grown to love. The aisles were more narrow than a clogged artery and the book shelves were overworked like the lungs of a smoker turned marathoner. I floated from room to room, not quite sure where to begin.
One aisle had a three foot tall stack of books about three feet deep. You couldn’t even get to the books in the back, on the shelves or otherwise. I walked past this aisle several times. It was like looking into the proverbial white light and not being ready to go. I asked for assistance in finding the books on my short list and wouldn’t you know it, they were all down the aisle I was avoiding. The clerk said, “All the gems are in this pile, but nobody wants to go through it.”
Since I am not ‘nobody,’ I go bobbing for Pulitzer Prize winning fiction. I have hit the mother load of used, history-making novels and just when I think I am completely through the white light to the other side, I hear my husband ask if I’m ready to go. I turn to him with a stack of books in my arms – a distraught look on my face – and ask for a few more minutes to pick my winner and say fare-thee-well to the rest. And like any near death experience, I knew one thing for sure. I would definitely come back here!