Probably one of the biggest influences on my writing ever is a bygone overstock, discount bookstore in a relatively small local mall I used to go to. I loved it so much anyway, but got to go there even more because it was where I did a bus transfer.
I read a lot of short plays in those days, because I like how plays look on the page, & the way the story moves along. Plus they’re enjoyable to read in commute. & of course I was reading poetry, always poetry, but like, kind of in secret.
I’ve often hidden my love of poetry, because Idk, I think until more recently, loving poetry was kind of this thing you kept to yourself. I mean, especially writing it too.
It’s still one of my favourite bookstores of all time, because it had all this like off-the-shelf lit from who knows where & why they were selling it in the first place.
I never would have read about, or even known about many of those works, had it not been for this otherwise regular brand boutique-sized, warehouse bookstore in an otherwise very regular indoor mall.
I still remember the layout of the shelves & the smell of the books there; the excitement of finding a neat, lesser-known work for $3 instead of the $25 cover price.
It was exhilarating & quietly so. The echoes from the mall, the cracking sound of carefully opening the new paperbacks & the soft thud of replacing a massive hard-back anthology; I remember those things from there more than from anywhere else I have ever held a book.
When you read like that, you learn about what kinds of writing writers have done other than their famed works, & you absorb about some of the more raw edges of their writings. You are not as pleasantly distracred by merchandising, but by sifting through the collections.
I love a certain degree of awkwardness in writing, or maybe an unfinished quality. & reading through smaller, shorter, more obscure works, you get so deliciously much of that.
The magic & mystery of my favourite bookstore, a portal almost, it stays with me. Me far way now. It long closed except in memories.
© Niliema Karkhanis
Featured photo by Jaredd Craig from Unspash