Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I have been trying to track down a copy of Henry Miller's The Tropic of Cancer.  I do have a copy on order, but the other day, on a whim, I ducked into one of two used bookstores that the small town in which I live boasts. (And they don't really boast about it at all. Most people's reaction is: "Why do we need two used book stores?" We have five pubs and three pet stores but the consensus is that two used bookstores is too much).

The very nice lady minding the store asked if she could help me. "I'm looking for a copy of The Tropic of Cancer." I said. The woman gave me a funny look. "By Henry Miller?" I added.

She sighed and nodded. "The section is over here," she said. I followed her as she led me to a corner of the store. "We have a wide selection," she said with a sympathetic tone. "Which is good. Sadly, too many people need them these days."

Okay. Henry Miller's novel, written in the early 1930's, (and banned in the USA and Britain) is centered in France and concerns Miller's life as a struggling writer. So why was I standing in front of a very large and prodigiously stocked section on Health and Wellness?

Confused (but suddenly suspecting the misunderstanding) I was about to say something when the owner, another pleasant woman, came up and asked if she could be of help. "This fellow is looking for books about cancer," the first woman said.

The owner gave me a look of deepest sadness and sympathy.

I shook my head. "No, no no. I'm looking for a book called The Tropic of Cancer. It's not about cancer, it's just... that's the title. It's by Henry Miller."

"Oh," the owner said, suddenly understanding. "That would be in our classics section," she said, pointing to a much smaller section of shelves. With that, both women seemed to vanish as they went back to what they were doing, leaving me on my own.

The "classics" section had a collection of older looking books, arranged alphabetically but in a desultory fashion. I found the M's. They had Moliere and they had Milton and they had Lucy Maude Montgomery, but no Miller.

As I was walking out the door the owner called from the back; "Any luck?"

I shook my head. She shrugged and gave me a sympathetic (though not as sympathetic as when she thought I was dealing with cancer) look. "No? Sorry."

Maybe tomorrow I'll try the other used bookstore. I am not hopeful.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

With a cover like that its hard to believe its not among the bestsellers.

cerebus660 said...

How can you work in a bookshop and not know about Henry Miller?

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

You just want to get yourself some intellectual covers so you can read that new smut book all the housewives are going nuts for.

Shades of Grey???

M. D. Jackson said...

Cal, you're right. I need those covers if I'm ever going to finish those Twilight books!

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