Why do we never learn? Why do we disregard the advice of people who consistently give really, really, good advice about things? Can it all really be traced back to being children and the unescapable pull to rebel, to not listen to our parents, to make our own mistakes?
I have a dear friend who knows me well. We’ve been in a book club together for years. We work at the bookstore together. She knows me and knows what books I really, really like. We don’t always agree, mind you, but she understands my take on almost all things literary. And yet….
I really wanted to love Laurence Cosse’s A Novel Bookstore. Friend tried to warn me, but the premise was irresistable. A longtime bookseller and a rich, longtime book lover decide to open a bookstore that will only stock GOOD novels. None of the best seller shlock, none of the celebrity (non)authors. nothing that hasn’t or won’t stand the test of time. Granted, everyone who could create a perfect bookstore would create it differently, but still, isn’t it a fabulous thought? It plays right into my fantasy bookstore, The Opening Soon, which would consist of me, all my favorite books, and virtually no customers. Yes, I really just want to play at owning a bookstore, which is why I actually work at someone else’s. But I digress.
The Good Novel bookstore seems successful, but there is also a significant backlash which starts as internet and editorial lashings and escalates to physical violence. This isn’t really giving anything away as the book starts with three seemingly random attacks and proceeds to fill in the backstory of the Good Novel bookstore. All the pieces are there for a great read, but the writing and construction of the novel didn’t deliver. Part of the issue might have been the translation, which I always trust when I’m pleased with a book, but always question when I’m not. The voice of the book felt inconsistent, the characters were not well developed, and the many mysteries were unresolved by the end.
The best part of the book wasn’t the book at all, but a website that the publisher’s marketing department put together. Yes, you can visit the fictional Good Novel’s actual website here.
It’s not that I’m sorry I read A Novel Bookstore, it was OK. I might even encourage you to try it if it sounds really intriguing to you, if the premise sounds too good to pass up. But don’t say I didn’t warn you if it leaves you unsatisfied.