Monday, October 27, 2008

Travels to NJ, Part I

Well, on Day 1 of this trip I am feeling somewhat better than I did on Day 0, thank goodness. Day 0 was pretty awful – stomachache, headache, exhaustion, etc. Coupled with flying (which is what one does on Day 0), this was not a good scene. I arrived at my hotel at a quarter to midnight (a.k.a. a ‘quarter to dead’).

Day 1 saw the return of the stomachache, although not as bad. No headache, thankfully. The exhaustion can be chalked up to jet lag now, I think. So I have high hopes for a good night’s sleep.

I’m driving a mini-van on this trip -- a whole mini-van for just li’l ole me. I’ve noticed that, with the gas crisis, the rental car companies seems to be running out of their inventory of smaller cars much sooner. So, even though I’d reserved a compact car, I was issued a “free upgrade” to a mini-van – because that’s the only class of cars they had left, quite frankly. I think that officially makes me a soccer-mom, even though I don’t have a soccer team to haul around.

Next door to the hotel is a small, exclusive mall with expensive stores like Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware. It also has a superior Barnes and Noble, and that is my mission for this evening – I want a book and I want to browse the bookstore for a long time.

On the way through the mall I am accosted by a young man from one of the kiosks. Brandishing a tray, he asks if I want to ‘have a taste.’ I do not. I’ve had a full day of work and I’m grouchy. I’m not interested in interacting with people one-on-one, tasting anything or, worse yet, listening to a sales pitch about whatever is the taste du jour. I vaguely and politely murmur, “no thank you,” and purposefully keep moving.

At the B&N, I skimmed through the companion book to the upcoming Twilight movie (what IS the attraction of that series?). I read parts of two small monographs about haunted places in New Jersey (we are, after all, just a few days from Halloween). I wandered around the book tables to my heart's content, gazing at the contents and looking for something that might pique my interest.

One thing that secured my notice was the plethora of Jane Austen ‘sequels’ now available. Good heavens! – a whole lot of people are tapping into the Austen-mania market and trying to write plausible sequels to Austen’s real works. Now, as much as any other Austen lover, I always feel let down when I get to the end of her last completed novel. She was such a great writer and her life and career were much too short! I always, always wish for more. And I will admit to being amused and entertained by the Austen mystery series written by Stephanie Barron – Barron writes well and constructs a good story with Jane Austen as the protagonist. She uses many historical details from Austen’s life in order to give authenticity to her tales, and she has found a good echo of Austen’s literary style.

But the rest of these pretend sequels are just too much. They all seem to be just this side of pulp romance novels, which Austen’s works were most decidedly not (however much Hollywood would like us to believe that they were).

In the end I pick up an Agatha Christie mystery that I haven’t read yet. And that’s okay. That’s the beauty of a protracted browse through a bookstore. I had hoped to find something new, but I also was quite sure there would be another Hercules Poirot saga that I could just as happily sit down with.

(to be continued)


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Ooo - travel and workdays when you aren't feeling well are very hard to endure.

"A book." You can go into B&N and get "a" book. To me that's like going into a chocolate shoppe and eating one M&M. 8~)

Catherine said...

Well, now, I do have to think about my luggage and how much it will weigh when I go home....