21 January 2008

3PM Barnes and Noble - Newnan, GA

Sitting in the café, commercial wonderland of books and coffee that it is, I see people around me, and I wonder about their lives.

The three students examine children's literature intently, consulting each other about publishers, authors, illustrators and content.

Spouses browse books. The wife is either oblivious or in denial a out her husband's status as a flaming queen. Really, she has to know; don't they all?

An old man flips the pages of a monthly on woodworking, glossy photos and drawings for next weekend's backyard or tool shed project.

Me? I stop writing long enough to read a few paragraphs of Le Comte de Monte-Cristo. Why exactly does Edmond Dantès need 1500 pages to exact his exquisite revenge on those who betrayed him?

At tables and in upholstered chairs, portable PC's plugged into wall sockets send data packets through WinSockets across WiFi connections freely offered by the bookstore.

The librairie is busy, and I imagine that there must be a reader for every one of the thousands of titles shelved for sale. But there isn't. The store could not accommodate as many, and so few people read books cover to cover any more.

Even these students--of education, of writing, of literature, who knows?--don't read the books piled before them. Pages flip. PowerPoint slides compile. Presentations materialize, but no one seems to enjoy the wealth and power of knowledge and experience in written word and artful images.

No comments: