Friday, May 18, 2012

Visiting The Last Bookstore

At least once a month, Amynah and the girls and I travel to downtown Los Angeles to have lunch with her uncle.* Downtown Los Angeles is strikingly non-vibrant, people-wise, considering that it is the nominal heart of a city of 12-million people.

On the other had, it does boast a great deal of attractive art-deco architecture, including some beautiful movie theatres (most of which have been converted to other uses, like churches).

It also boasts one of the so-called “Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World,” so honoured by no less an authority than Who could resist?**

After dining, Habib guided us to The Last Bookstore (demanding to know, as was his wont, if I would not prefer to read things on my phone like a civilized person). It’s a used bookstore, and I suspect the fact that they don’t charge retail left them feel free to make their cashier’s counter out of old tomes.

It’s an enormous space, littered with couches and offering a coffe bar, all of which contributed to an inviting atmosphere. It also featured somewhat-too-precious decorative touches like fake taxidermy of a wooly mammoth head mounted on the wall, and a mutilated mannequin at the end of an aisle (both of which Sana reported with frightened certainty as being monsters that intended to eat her). It need hardly be said that a place like this would also have a section devoted to the paleo-technology of vinyl records, right?

Places like this always inspire me to buy some classic or other that I’d never tried before. I think the mannequins, in particular, guided my hand this time: I picked up Kafka’s “Metamorphosis.”*** Similarly unnerved by the atmosphere, Sana picked up Sandra Boynton's “Birthday Monsters.”

·    * The presence of Amynah’s uncle and his family has been the aspect of Los Angeles that I am most going to miss when we leave. Yeah, we're leaving. BUT I WON'T TELL YOU WHERE OR WHEN.

** I have now managed to go to three of the bookstores on this list, though this last one was the only one whose threshold I'd crossed as the result of any intent or foreknowledge.

*** Will I get around to reading it? Not in less than two years, if my moldering copy of "Persuasion" is any guide!
These are photo experiments: because the world needs more black and white urban
 decay photos, and I am the man to elevate the genre from "trite" to "barely competent." 


Sarah said...

Alia and I should request credit - I believe one of us was the one who found this "20 most beautiful bookstore" website. I don't know how Dad got a hold of it.
I really want to go now - I'm glad you had the opportunity to go. When you have a chance, there is a great bookstore called Politics and Prose I'd like to take you to here in DC.

Mark Reynolds said...

It was you for sure. I saw you show it the site to Alia (via tweet or Facebook) and asked your Dad to take us there. I think it found it terribly old-fashioned: he's a 21st century man.

I think I've heard of P & P - I'd love for you to take us there.