Saturday, March 6, 2010

Words Underground

I have found a lucky bookstore. "Mac's Backs" in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. This used bookstore has a super fun upstairs, but unfortunately that is where the science fiction is housed, so after I've admired the architecture I usually head back downstairs. I've had more luck in the basement.

The first time I went to Mac's I found a hilariously sarcastic postcard involving a beauty pageant contestant. I can't remember what it said (Nick, do you remember? Or Jordan, if you're reading this, do you still have it? What did it say?). Something along the lines of "you're not that special." It was funny, I promise.

Anyway, the basement. I also found a book called Roommates by Max Apple that day in the basement of Mac's. (Interestingly enough, after I read it, I also sent that to Jordan to read). The basement is not carpeted, almost creepy but not quite, well lit, and surprisingly not as cold as it looks. The basement has most of the store's nonfiction, so clearly I hang out down there. Roommates is about Max Apple's grandfather, who lived to be something like 104 years old, and Max always lived with him; they were roommates when Max was a little boy, and after Max was married his grandfather still lived with him. It was a very touching story, and the part I remember the most was when Max chaperoned his daughter's Girl Scout field trip and took his grandfather along. Grandpa fell asleep on the bus ride home, and one of the Girl Scouts came up to Max and asked if his grandpa was really 100 years old. He told her he was, and she gave him a piece of paper with the instruction to please ask for his autograph when he woke up. My heart skips a beat every time I think of that. The precious enthrallment of the girl just crushes me.

I went back to Mac's this January when I was visiting Nick, and I made him, Emily, and Beth wait while I explored the basement. It was there that I found Girl Meets God, which I just finished today; I've been savoring it because I loved it so much. Girl Meets God is a memoir about the author, Lauren F. Winner, who grew up as a reform Jew in the south, converted to Orthodox Judaism in high school, and then while a student at Columbia University, converted to Christianity. I found such a story incredibly intriguing, and I loved everything that Lauren had to say. She's an unabashed intellectual, who, rather than being fickle as you might gather from all her conversions, is incredibly honest about her feelings, beliefs, and doubts. She's also insanely smart and even more insanely well read, a poster Scholar, and were it not for her open cynicism (which I so love in people, reminding me I'm not the only bitter person who's willing to admit it) I'd probably be pretty jealous of her academic resume. But she's somehow incredibly likeable, approachable.

Needless to say I look forward to my next visit to Mac's. I'm not superstitious, actually believing there is luck in its chambers, but I do plan on visiting that basement a few more times. Look at that, I've developed a tradition! A pilgrimage.

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