I came to B&N looking for Thomas Kunkel's new biography of Mitchell, "Man in Profile." It was the book's publication day. I wasn't sure if that meant the book already would be in the store, or if it still had to be shipped. The book was not on the "new arrivals" table or in the biography section. I inquired at the "customer service" desk, where an idiot bookseller annoyed me by saying the book "didn't ring a bell." Once I might have berated him as an ignorant fool, but ignored the impulse.
A young woman said she'd "look in the back," that mysterious place. After two tries, she returned triumphant, holding up the book from across the way, as I gave her a thumb's up.
For a second, I thought about telling her about the time I spent $500 for a first edition of Mitchell's first book, "My Ears Were Bent," a collection of his features for the old World-Telegram, before he started his illustrious career with the New Yorker. Published in the 1930s, "My Ears Were Bent" was once one of America's rarest books, because Mitchell suppressd it. Then, after Mitchell's death in the 1980s, his daughters agreed to the publication of a new edition.
The bookstore in New York City's diamond district where I bought the original edition of "My Ears Were Bent" no longer exists. The store's owner went next door to find his personal copy of the book to sell to me. I forget why I was in the city; perhaps my ill-fated tryout with The New York Times.
No, my story about would only bore her. I left the store and drove back home through Buckhead's ersatz urban streets.