Once upon a time there was an ancient civilization called Lemuria. The Lemurians held great powers–one of which was the ability to communicate telepathically. But the Lemurians took great pride in themselves and grew arrogant. They displeased the gods who ruled over them and who took away this singular power. However, the Lemurians just turned their great communication skills in another direction and they created the world’s first writings–which became, of course, books.
This weekend we traveled to Jackson, MS to visit husband’s uncle and aunt. Their neighborhood is full of narrow winding roads, lakes and gorgeous homes on forrested lots. You get the feeling that any seed tossed out a window would grow in the fertile Jackson soil.
Jackson is also home to Lemuria, an independent bookstore–a dying breed in these parts.
The first bookstore that I remember here in Franklin was called the Book and Hobby Shop. It was a wonderful place where you could by books about horses and elves and princesses and all the things an eleven year old loves to read about. Over the years, the name changed, but there was always a bookstore there on 4th Ave. I knew that I could always walk in and see someone I knew who could recommend a good book. But even my book-buying habit, and those of many others, couldn’t keep the store afloat. After all, how can one indepedent bookseller compete with the likes of Borders, Barnes and Noble, and the oh-so-aptly named Amazon.com?
So everytime I go to Jackson, my aunt and I make trip to Lemuria. It’s not like going into a retail store at all–more like visiting the slightly untidy living room of a good friend. The books aren’t necessarily on shelves. They tend to be stacked a little haphazardly–just like at my house. And it’s easy to see that the books weren’t choosen from a corporate spreadsheet. Mississippi writers have prominent placement. And why not? From Faulkner to Welty to the much-maligned but oh-so-entertaining Grisham to my favorite Jimmy Buffet, Mississippi has produced nearly as many top-notch writers as it has Miss Americas.
Lemuria makes me want to read. Borders just makes me want to cry. They have a habit of slapping a big 30% Off sticker up in the corner of the books it really wants you to buy. Trouble is, the stickers obscure the name of the book and the author. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they’d do that. I asked one time and just got a Franklin version of the gallic shrug.
But I can’t avoid the chains altogether. Jackson is 7 hours away. I bought a good supply–it’ll last me a month or more. But sooner or later I’ll be back at Barnes. Or Borders and Noble. Or whatever they’re called–it’s hard to tell them apart.