Thursday, July 09, 2009

A thick book(seller)

I visited my local comics store today to inquire about Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of Richard Stark's The Hunter. Here's what happened:

Me: "Do you have The Hunter?

Click-click-click-click. Silence.
"Darwyn Cooke, graphic-novel version of Richard Stark's novel?

More silence.


The help: "Our computer is slow."

I circle the shop, browsing.

The help: "Who's in it?"

Me (nonplussed): "Who– Why would you ask who's in a novel? It's a novel, by Richard Stark – Donald Westlake – adapted and drawn by Darwyn Cooke.

I circle the shop again and come back around to the help and the store's computer.
"Not getting anything?" (On a previous visit to the store, another employee had called up information on the book and given me an approximate delivery date.)

The help: "I'm getting too many titles."

Me: "Why are you looking for a book on IMDb?"

The help: "Oh, it's not a movie?"
I'll find another place to buy the book. In the meantime, read about Darwyn Cooke and the Hunter comic at the Violent World of Parker Web site. And read some of my posts about Richard Stark here.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Blogger Vanda Symon said...

Sad. Where's Super-slap-an-idiot-man when you need him?

July 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Aw, the clerk was a woman; I could not even think of having her slapped. I could barely draw myself up into high dudgeon and stalk out of the store, assuring her that I would come back some time when the staff was not napping.

July 09, 2009  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Perhaps all the good booksellers providing "American style service" have left the country?
We were in deepest Sussex in an idyllic village the other day and came across a fabulous independent bookshop run by a couple of Bostonians.

July 09, 2009  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

And people wonder why brick-and-mortar booksellers are going out of business.

July 09, 2009  
Blogger Dana King said...

Tat was laugh-out-loud (not) funny. Loren's point is spot on. Much as I lament the passing of brick and mortar business, many of them have undone themselves with "service" lie this.

I once darted into a fast food joint with my daughter for a quick drink in the midst of errend running.

Me: Two small sodas, please. (This was a self-service soda joint. She gives me a cup and I get my own.)

The Help: Ain't no small.

Me: Excuse me?

The Help: Ain't no small.

Me: I don't understand.

The Help: We got medium, large, extra large. Ain't no small.

True story.

July 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, I hope you'll point me in the direction of that bookshop the next time I'm in England. I would love to drop in and surprise the proprietors.

July 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, in defense of American retail business, and also of the clerk's entire generation (she's young), I think her abstraction and possible stupidity were so extreme as to be indiosyncratic. If more retail clerks start acting like her, though, I will have to assume that I am living in the middle of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and that the pod people are taking over, industry by industry.

July 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, that's scary both for the penetration of Starbucks-style deception beyond Starbucks and for the clerk's willingness to bend to Starbucks' manipulation of the language. This assumes, of course, that the clerk was not a gifted, deadpan comedian.

One thing I will say in favor of Starbucks is that, in all my years of refusing to order a tall, grande or venti, no clerk but one has ever batted an eye when I ordered instead a small, medium or large. The one exception is an interesting case, but I'll save that for another post. I don't want to stray too far off topic.

July 09, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter, was it a chain bookseller? While attending grad school I worked at an independent bookstore, a "good bookseller providing 'American style service'". Our small but knowledgeable staff (avid readers all) provided super service to other readers. Most independent bookstores will still do the same. Beyond superb service, there is something deeply satisfying about putting a good book in the hands of a person who then comes back to you and says "I really liked that book you recommended; can you recommend another one?" and make a salary, too!
PS I'm also glad to read you, too, refuse to use that ersatz Italian ordering system at Starbucks. Since grande = tall (or big or large) in Italian, what's a "tall"? And what's with venti (20 in Italian)? AACK!

July 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, it was a local independent store, which is why I felt betrayed. The stereotypical complaint at a chain store would be of bright, polite but not terribly knowledgeable staff, a la McDonald's. The stereotypical complaint at an independent comics store would be enthusiastic, knowledgeable but disorganized service. If the woman who "served" me conformed to any stereotype, it was that of the self-absorbed slacker.

I presume the venti is 20 ounces. I speak a bit of Italian, so I would wince at the shouted orders for "DOPey-oh m-KYEAH-toe"s flying around the place. When I'm king of the world, coffee shops will be allowed to give their products Italian names (and to charge the inflated prices that the accompanying cachet allows) only if their help can pronounce the names correctly.

July 09, 2009  

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