There are three bookstores here in Valencia that I like. The first is our local Fnac (though only the lefthand corner of the upper echelon of any Fnac is dedicated to literary pursuits), the second a Mom & Pop place called KandA and the third the quaintly, if somewhat mundanely, named Casa del Llibre in the city center. One of my favorite things about this third option is its baffling ability to stock up on new English titles I went out of my way to purchase elsewhere not two weeks beforehand. While Fnac has offered the same twelve books and their succesive sequels for the past four years (“The God Delusion”, “Eragon”, “The Lieutenant’s Lover”, etc. etc.) and KandA is essentially a fluctuating flea market (the owners have set up an enchanting exchange system), Casa del Llibre’s selection comprises all of four waist-high shelves, all labeled alphabetically (though none of the books or their keepers seem to have gotten with the cataloguing program) and probably the most diverse collection I’ve ever seen. Nabokov’s novella “The Enchanter” rubs elbows with four copies of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, while, in a separate aisle, Shakespeare communes with Danielle Steel, Camilla Läckberg and several dozen South Asian American authors (I have read of Indian immigrants wearing Bata sandals, struggling to make Kolkata street food with Sam’s Club alternatives and making derisive comments about the quality of US mangoes more times than I’ve seen any actual Indians, excluding my lovely Rajasthani father.)
It makes me laugh, to come into Casa del Llibre and spot the exact four books I doled out more money to buy more than six thousand miles away, in a New York Barnes & Noble. There’s even a Murakami I could not find on Fifth Avenue, and it’s somehow reasonably priced, even though this is Europe and nothing in Europe is reasonable. That I could have purchased my beloved novels here at home, ending my year long literary starvation period, if I had just thought to check at Casa del Llibre and see if they had renewed their usually mediocre stock!
Clearly this is turn of events can only be explained by my terrible luck, which I shall hereby personify as a hateful, or at the very least excessively mischeivous Book Lord. In artistic depictions of this Book Lord, one should never forget to include the Rasputin beard, skull-topped sceptre and the burning pile of wonderful literature in the foreground (scenery should evoke Holy Inquisition period Spain, or, alternatively, the planet Hoth.)
Perhaps it is high time I purchase myself a Kindle.