The recent acquisitions are all products of random browsing at indies. When half the staff recommends a book or an author’s works, I can trust that opinion. Norman Mailer is such an author. Clarice Lispector is re-discovered and further pursued at the prodding of my friend. Bernard Malamud is new to me. He was a twice-National Book Award winner and winner of Pulitzer Prize. His work showed a regard for Jewish tradition and the plight of ordinary men, and was imbued with the theme of moral wisdom gained through suffering. My current reading, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, is set in San Francisco. Quoting the New York Times Book Review: “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” by Robin Sloan, dexterously tackles the intersection between old technologies and new with a novel that is part love letter to books, part technological meditation, part thrilling adventure, part requiem.
Our lives are mediated through technology. Our devices and gadgets hold an illimitable dominion over us. Technology has become so entwined with our lives there is a term, nomophobia, for the fear of losing or being separated from one’s phone. And then there are books, an enduring technology. Despite regular lamentations about its demise, the book perseveres. I myself have only been an iPhone convert since April 2013, but I have become so attached to my smart-phone. I make dinner reservation, buy plane tickets, text my family and friends local and overseas, check out the latest shoes. As much as I fear to part with my phone, it doesn’t replace books, which exert a great dominion over me and satisfy my cravings for literary (and textile) pleasure.