May 1, I hear, is Buy Indie Day. The idea, as described at Indiebound, is simple: "Buy one book â€” paperback, hardcover, audiobook, whatever you want! â€” at an independent bookstore near you." (Those of you on Facebook can check out the movement's Facebook page, too.)
If you're still reading this, you doubtless are familiar with Eugene's fine independent booksellers: Tsunami Books, Black Sun Books, Smith Family Books, the UO Bookstore (still not calling it the Duck Store), Windows Booksellers (which I've actually never been in) and J. Michaels. You can also get books at The Kiva, of course, or order online from an online shop (there's this one in Portland you may have heard of?).
Conveniently, tomorrow is also the first day of J. Michaels' 34th anniversary sale, which a colorful little postcard emphasizes is their ONLY sale of the year. The sale runs through Saturday, May 9, but if you swing by on Friday evening, you can add snacks and wine to your indie shopping experience.
Whichever store is your favorite, there's a lot to be said for something like Buy Indie Day â€” not least of which is that you'll come out of it with something new to read. Should you be unsure what to buy, let me recommend a few recent favorites, all (this time) in a fantasy-fiction sort of vein. Sort of:
â€¢ The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. A timeless story about a boy raised by ghosts, told in Gaiman's personable, charming prose, sly and impossibly precise, like the story always existed this way and Gaiman just happened to snare it, to gently press it into his lovely book. I'm not ashamed to say I teared up at the end of Bod's story, and I do hope it continues.
â€¢ Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson. A sci-fi novel, but only at the outset; Midnight Robber moves quickly from the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint to its parallel world, New Half-Way Tree, where criminals are sent into exile, forced to make their way without technology. Tan-Tan winds up on New Half-Way Tree with her father, whose sour, drunken assaults on Tan-Tan eventually send her into the bush, where she lives with the planet's native population. Since reading this, I've been nabbing Hopkinson's other books from the library just as fast as I can; I can't get enough of her engrossing, vivid writing and her beautiful, dangerous worlds. (I've only finished one other so far, but I can also heartily recommend Brown Girl in the Ring, in which the dangerous world is our own.)
â€¢ Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente. The title of Valente's new book refers to a city you can only reach by sleeping with someone who's been there. It's fantastical and yet entirely physical; you can only visit the part of the city that appears like a tattoo on your lover's body; you will only find yourself there at night, like a dream. But it's not a dream. Four characters swirl around each other in this story, each shaped and marked by loss, each finding something they may or may not have known they were missing in this strange city, where a river flows with coats and a house grows for the woman who will inherit it. I recommend reading this one on a train, not just in solidarity with the train-loving character Amaya Sei, but because it might make you feel appropriately exposed when the stranger in the seat next to you peers over your shoulder as you read yet another sex scene â€”Â but it's not just about sex! It's about travel, exploration, a different kind of anticipation â€” and you find yourself wondering what exactly they're thinking about this small, seemingly innocuous book you're reading so intently.