I was at a library sale outside of D.C. last week, and picked up one book that looked interesting, though it had a low sales rank and no resale value, so I decided to keep it for myself. I started reading it last night, and noticed that the author’s bio mentioned him living in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. A few dozen pages in, he mentioned having been the proprietor of a bookstore in Charlottesville. Glancing at his picture again, the wheels started turning in my head, shaking off the cobwebs. The tone of this book sounds familiar… a bookstore owner… hey, wait, what was that guy’s name again…? Tom…? So, a quick Google search later confirmed my vague suspicion; this was the guy who used to run my favorite used bookstore downtown. I traded in many a book for credit in his store, though the only real conversation I recall having with him was over the issue of Leonard Peltier’s conviction (he felt Peltier was guilty, railroaded or not; I wasn’t so sure). I never knew he wrote books himself, though. What a cool coincidence.
A few days later, I was in the southern part of the state and found another book with a wry take on the whole self-help genre. And once again, the author turned out to be from Charlottesville. I’ve never met her, though.
I had no idea I had grown up in the crucible of the rebellion against mushy, feel-good, self-help platitudes. Why, I take a little pride in knowing that now.