Thrifted, Not Re-gifted
A funny thing happen to me at the thrift store. As I was scanning the bookshelves for the lastest literary cast-offs my daughter cried out to me after unearthing a slightly worn copy of my debut novel, Soon and Very Soon-with a signature, no less. I haven't done many of these. This gave me pause. I was insulted. I felt the way I did when I found my favorite cassette tape of all time, New Editions's NE Heartbreak album in the bargin bin at Sam Goody record store. Surely, it was a mistake. The owner must have been like those clueless sad-sacks who give away one-of-a-kind artwork only to find iout its worth later on the Antique's Roadshow.
I made my daughter take me to the exact same spot where she found it. I examine the void it left on the shelf between an outdated volume of the Childcraft encyclopedia and another book as if it would give me some clue as to who could have given my baby away. I want to know this person's identity more than anything. See, my book only came out seven months ago, and we were in my neighborhood. I was sure I could crack the case. That's only a twenty-five to thirty mile radius to cover. Not exactly a case for Scotland Yard. I narrow the field of known residents that I had told about the book or sold the book to. Just when I think I have a list compiled, I think how ridiculous this whole thing is. How do you tactfully ask someone, did you happen to pitch my book out with your argyl sweater and Hammer pants? Was there no one you could personally give the book to? Ever hear of paperback swap, for goodness sake.
There had to be a logical explanation. The writer in me had me sit down at the kiddie desk set they were selling for just $7 to ponder a few possible ones. Maybe this person had a husband like mine who constantly threatens, "Don't bring another book in this house." But of course this person couldn't resist my realistic tale about two pastors that marry and combine their churches. So she took the risk and discarded the evidence immediately after the last page. Yeah, that's it.
Just when I thought I could rest a bit after a major signing at my sorority's convention at the end of this month. Yeah, maybe I'll do the Baltimore Book Festival in September, then the Capitol Book Festival. I've got a sequel to write. I can't possibly create and promote simultaneously. Soon and Very Soon will do alright. Wrong. I got a few more calls to make, connections to follow-up on and weekends to book with signings.
"Look mommy, you've got that book."
That's my six year old who has gotten good at reading the spin of books. She gets caught up on the last syllable of Terri McMillian's last name as she spots the hardback copy of A Day Late and a Dollar Short. I do own that book. I stood in line for hours while pregnant to get it signed at the crowded-to-overflowing Karibu books in the Bowie Town Center (Don't get me started. That's a whole nother lament). I would have loved to get it for $2.10. Just thirty more cents than my book was going for at the Waldorf Thrift Store.
God has a sense of humor. Just as I was about to grab my book up and discreetly pay for it at the counter like it was the last scandal sheet written about me left on the newstand, I realized I've gotten some real good books here. I wasn't thinking, poor Audre Lorde when I picked her book of poems up and added it to my library. I've found, read and treasured, Grisham, Jakes, Gaines, and Steele.
I could take it home, wipe the red colored pencil price tag off with a bay wipe and add it to the other books packed to go to Florida-for sale for $15 a pop. Genreic signature could easily be personalized on the spot. Dead wrong-maybe, maybe not. ( I put this is print so I wouldn't be tempted to do that)
I left the copy of Soon and Very Soon on the shelf next to the outdated volume of the Childcraft encyclopedia and the other book. God has plans for that book right there. My goal was that it would be widely read and that it would be a blessing to the reader. I couldn't think of a better place for that goal to be accomplished.