This weekend a semi-spontaneous excursion to a store called The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles. I don’t know if it is the last bookstore but it might as well be. We got stuck in some traffic going there and I thought: This might be the last bookstore I ever visit because I might implode right here on the freeway while driving 2mph. But eventually we made it there. Me and two book loving teenagers whom I know through association. (It’s not true that no one reads books any more, and it’s encouraging to me to actually know young people who read and love books in the same way I did and that I do. This proves to me that there must indeed be a God.) It was night time and fairly sketchy walking downtown after 8pm. Not super sketchy, but a little bit sketchy. The bookstore is a huge building with two levels of books, some small art galleries, a labyrinth, an immense section full of $1 used books – with some of the shelves arranged strictly by color (i.e. a shelf full of only red books, a shelf full of only yellow books, etc.) which is a major point of interest and awe to all, but no restrooms. That’s right, you read me, no restrooms. Also, no coffee. But we figured out that the two go together. Where there is coffee, there must be restrooms, that one begets the other – right?
I had a couple of poignant poetry experiences. One. I stumbled upon an old, slim volume of Paul Monette’s elegies – Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog. This book was published in the late eighties. They are love poems, written in the days after the death of Monette’s partner from AIDS. They are so damn heartbreaking and so damn good.
Two. I bought that book but didn’t buy the other one I was eyeing, another oldish book but found in the new poetry section, by Carine Topal. I was being rushed by one of the teenagers and I needed more time to decide so I put it back down (I have a book-o-holic problem and so I am careful which books I actually buy, lest they become a part of another burdensome shedding the next time I move. I am so tired of this shuffling and discarding of books.) In particular though I read one of her prose poems that was astonishingly beautiful to me but which I can hardly remember now. Some vivid descriptions of flowers as sexual…something…
I did not take any pictures of the store nor can I find a picture that is relevant to pair with this post. So I have paired it randomly with an unrelated photo of the door to a hotel I stayed in in Phoenix some few years ago. Quite a styling, urban, boutique hotel which I might have enjoyed so much more if it wasn’t 120 degrees and I hadn’t been dying from just the concept of that kind of heat, let alone the thought of people living in it.
God bless Phoenix and The Last Bookstore.