Owner of a Broken Heart

(Title cribbed from “Owner of  Lonely Heart,” from Yes’s 1983 album, 90125)

You get to a certain age and you know that “life isn’t fair”–though I remember my father making that very clear in the early 1970s.

But I feel that life is particularly unfair this week. The Well-Read Bookstore, in Hawthorne, NJ, has closed its doors.

The Well-Read Bookstore was a bright light in downtown Hawthorne. They had an interesting business model. You could buy new books there, as well as gently used, like-new books for half price. Every so often I would stop in, just to see what’s “out there,” and I always came home with something unexpected.

It was at The Well-Read that I discovered Lars Kepler, who has become a favorite. (Aside: I just heard an interview with the authors, who noted that “Lars” is an homage to Stieg Larsson. Who knew?)

I thought the inventory was looking a bit slender, and then as I was paying for Wild Thing by Josh Bazell (and wondering why the price was so low), the young man behind the counter told me that the store was going out of business. I overhead the proprietor saying to another customer that it had been a hard decision despite the fact that sales had been going up every year.

I went to Barnes & Noble in Clifton, NJ a few days later, sort of as a way of reassuring myself that brick-and-mortar bookstores still exist, but it just wasn’t the same, you know? But surprises come in unexpected ways. As I was paying for my copies of Arcadia by Iain Pears and Version Control by Dexter Palmer with my credit card, the young woman at the register saw the name on my credit card and said, “Did you write The Outsmarting of Criminals?”  That was my first public recognition.  Guess I’ll have to start wearing sunglasses everywhere now…