Went wandering yesterday around southeast Baton Rouge and somewhere along the way bumped into a Barnes & Noble bookstore. Very probably my car sniffed it out all by itself, a skill picked up from other wanderings. The Toyota has reminded me on more than one occasion that its favorite place for resting is the parking lot in front of a bookstore. Who am I to argue?
For a list of reasons, the Barnes & Noble I browsed yesterday was more inviting than my usual B&N in Daytona. The arrangement of books is easier to follow, there are more armchairs for reading in a mush of comfortable cushions and the shelves holding new fiction are fuller with more titles. Not sure I understand why that would be, but it could be because this store is designated as a superstore. Whatever the reason, there were three or four titles I wanted to buy, but managed some often absent control and in the end bought only one.
Dog Stories, from Everyman’s Pocket Classics is a handsome little volume of stories from an impressive list of writers who include Anton Chekhov, G.K. Chesterton, Rudyard Kipling, Jonathan Lethem, Doris Lessing and fifteen others. As the title implies, the stories all revolve around dogs. After reading Lethem’s story of Ava, the three-legged and full of love pit bull, I knew the book had been a good buy. “Garm—A Hostage” by Rudyard Kipling is a gem of a tale set in colonial India and about a bull terrier of extraordinary intelligence. Some will call Kipling an acquired taste, but this story is fueled by a bond of love and trust that would affect the most dour of readers. In another story by Patricia Highsmith, we meet an aged dog living with a cruel and uncaring master in a New York penthouse. Highsmith is famous for her fiendish characters, but this time the ending is happy.
Good collection. Give it a look next time at the bookstore. Dog Stories, edited by Diana Secker Tesdell; Everyman’s Pocket Classics 2010.
For dinner last night we went to the Acme Oyster Bar for a grand feast of grilled oysters, fried catfish stuffed with crabmeat, crawfish etouffee, red beans and rice and gumbo. Let no one tell you that Louisiana is without a classic cuisine. This Creole-Cajun style of cooking has its origins in the old dirt floor kitchens of poor people from south Louisiana, but its rich and earthy flavors have tamed giants. If ever the question arises, ‘Why should I go to Louisiana?’ the answer is simple: Go for the food.
‘That first real 35mm camera, a Topcon D-1, black, about the size of an open hand, carried everywhere when young, plenty of film to shoot the dark water of the Mississippi reflecting blue sky and green trees along willow-choked banks. Those black and white negatives from the Topcon show river traffic from the levee in Baton Rouge, crowded Third Street, the Sears store, Walgreen’s Drug Store, the Paramount Theatre, Piccadilly Cafeteria where black men in white shirts carried food trays to the tables for tips, the Istrouma Hotel, Liggett’s Drug Store, H.J. Kress with toy-filled windows, the City Pawn Shop, and Claitor’s Bookstore in the hot summer stillness, the sagging shelves crammed with adventures, the memory of them like a photograph.’ —excerpt from Southern Snapshots