This morning, because I had half an hour before an appointment in Coolidge Corner, I walked into the Brookline Booksmith, one of my favorite independent bookstores. I haven’t had much time to browse in bookstores lately, although of course I love doing so. Independent bookstores and second-hand bookshops are my favorites. But nowadays it always gives me a sense of melancholy as well, because I see all those books, on all those shelves – none of them mine. And I think, even if I do write a book, will it get lost in all this? Will anyone read it?
So there I was in the Brookline Booksmith, looking at the Fantasy and Science Fiction shelves, at all the Neil Gaimans and China Miévilles and Ursula Le Guins, feeling melancholy, when I saw this:
Tails of Wonder and Imagination is an anthology of cat stories edited by Ellen Datlow, and my story “The Puma” is the very last one in the volume. Can you imagine how I smiled? There I had been, thinking there was nothing of mine on those shelves, when all the time there was. A story of mine was up there. I was part of that bookstore, part of the literary world it represented.
And then I saw this:
Catherynne M. Valente’s The Habitation of the Blessed is based on, or perhaps it just started with, a story of hers called “A Dirge for Prester John.” That story was in Interfictions, the last story in the volume. Since I had known Cat for years, I was the one who asked her for it. Delia and I both loved it, and I was thrilled to have it in the anthology.
So there I was, doubly part of that bookstore, as both author and, in an implicit way, as editor. The thought did not banish all of my melancholy, but it did feel as though the sun had suddenly come out from behind some particularly gray clouds.
The Habitation of the Blessed is currently on my bedside table, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it. I can’t wait to see what Cat did with the story I read in manuscript, so long ago.