Still, aside from my two-year stint in Moscow, this is the first time in my life I've lived in a city where you can't have the New York Times delivered to your doorstep. After a month, the novelty of returning to the world of grits, bibles, and flying roaches was beginning to wear off. This week was hot, the Alabama criminal justice system is depressing, and federalism was getting me down. I needed a shot of cosmopolitanism. So I went to Barnes & Noble.
Oh, I know I'm supposed to lament the advent of stores like Barnes & Noble. Displacing the local bookstore, bulldozing regional variation, imposing that nowhereland retail chain sameness in town after American town. You're all good liberals; you know the rant.
But here's the secret. Today, I love Barnes & Noble. Today, that sameness - that reliable green lettering, those wooden shelves so predictably stocked - is no less than a blessing. Is like central air on a muggy afternoon. Is restorative. Is comforting. Is the sameness not of blight, but of cosmopolitan promise. And is definitely the only place in Montgomery that sells vegetarian cookbooks.
I bought: Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table; The Ten Year Nap, a new novel by Meg Wolitzer I discovered while browsing the Atlantic Monthly in the periodical aisle; 2007 Best American Short Stories, edited, somewhat alarmingly, by Stephen King; and the collected poems of Philip Larken. It was a beautiful splurge. I feel renewed and ready to do battle with habeas corpus law (and Alabama roaches) once again.