"Serious" writer with "serious" glasses.
In the course of internetting regarding mass market books for my last post, I came across several articles that mentioned “Franzenfreude.” This non-word was created as part of a Twitter campaign waged by mass market faves Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner. The two were questioning why “chick-lit” books, books that deal with women-centric themes, get ignored by the literary establishment while similar books written by men get considered serious works of fiction. Men like Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections, Freedom, and every other books that “teaches us about ourselves.” Franzenfreud.
A few years ago I walked into a Barnes & Noble with a question. I was looking for the cheapest possible edition of “Dreams of My Father,” the Obama autobiography. Yup, guilty. I knew on some level that I would never actually read this book, but while travelling I had seen a teeny-tiny sized $8 copy and thought, “Yeah, I could buy that. It’s cute.” I didn’t, but I thought maybe the book would be available next to the mysteries and romance novels in the little paperbacks’ section. It was worth $8, I thought, but, like, only that much.
When I asked customer service whether they had this edition, I got a surprising response. Not only did they not carry it, but they assured me in their obnoxious bookseller voice that the publisher had “never released the book in mass market size.” Like, at all.
You know the mall, right? It’s like a 15 minute drive from you. Located on Rt. NUMBER right next to Lowes? The fluorescent-lit indoor garden filled with palms? Food court full of fast-food stalls and chain coffee shops? Modern world’s answer to the need for public restrooms and enforced civility? To the right is a visual reference.
This picture is of the ABC Mall in Beirut, Lebanon, not AWESOME BUYING CENTER in SUBURB, SoCal, but I forgive you for the mistake. Mall architecture is pretty much the same everywhere. And by that I mean that all malls feel vaguely desolate despite being optimistically lavish and somehow simultaneously Midwestern-looking.
This uniformity is intentional.