The book business can be puzzling - I often read reviews and feature stories on authors, then can't find their books. Nowadays, my source is limited to the Buckhead Barnes & Noble. Atlanta's few remaining independent bookstores are too far away for easy driving. Plus, my visits to independent bookstores in recent years, outside of New York and San Francisco, have left me disappointed.
I've been seeking to take a look at Rachel Kushner's novel "The Flamethrowers," the subject of several articles. I've not found the highly publicized book in several visits to B&N, although it was published in early April. On a recent trip to Nashville, I didn't find the book at Ann Patchett's independent Parnassus Books. The book must be such a smash that booksellers can't come up with copies to sell.
Speaking of Parnassus, heralded in the New York Times, I was not impressed by the store in my second visit. Located in a small shopping center of chain restaurants and retail businesses, Parnassus misses the undefinable bookish spirit of bookstores such as San Francisco's City Lights. The periodical section was distressingly small, and the poetry section had shrunk in the six months or so since my first visit. I thought for sure Parnassus would have "The Flamethrowers," but no such luck. Parnassus gave me the sense that it is struggling.
Well, there's always the Nook, which has "The Flamethrowers" in e form. The e-universe also yields classics at little or no cost. After reading in Sports Illustrated about a new Library of America edition of Red Smith's columns, I found in a Nook search a free edition of an out-of-print Smith collection, "Views on Sport," the title of his seven-day-a-week New York Herald Tribune column. The e-book contains Smith classics such as his report on Bobby Thompson's home run in 1951 that won the New York Giants the National League pennant over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The new Library of America Smith collection was supposed to be in bookstores Thursday. I think I'll look for it later today at the B&N, but I won't be surprised if it's not there.