December 30, 2004

Bookstore Elitists A few days

Bookstore Elitists

A few days ago, dear reader, one of the senior editors here at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly”—let’s just call him “Chip”—was perusing the shelves at his local independent bookstore. You know the kind of shop we are discussing: A store that boasts Noam Chomsky’s latest piece of radical agitprop as its bestseller. This, dear reader, isn’t a Mitch Albom kind of place; it’s pure Howard Zinn.

Naturally, it was right before Christmas, and the place was teeming with all kinds of halfwits in search of last-minute gift items for various (un)loved ones.

Whilst taking a gander at the recent releases, dear reader, “Chip” came to a rather unsurprising realization: Independent bookstores are chock-a-block with self-important twits. It seems, in fact, as if many customers enter the shop merely to demonstrate their intellectual acumen to unsuspecting onlookers. They want to show off all their learning from the one Molly Ivins book they read this year.

As “Chip” toured the fiction section, a few tote-bag-wielding nerds were pontificating to their friends—and anyone else within a five-mile radius—about their deep understanding of political and cultural life. “I heard a wonderful review of this book on NPR,” sniffs one such panjandrum. As if any radio station responsible for Garrison Keillor’s monotone pseudo-humor were the locus classicus of high quality book criticism.

“The Bush administration is such a joke,” exclaims another bookstore popinjay. Ah, yes: The Bush administration is a joke, but a miserable fifty-something prattling on about politics in a bookstore in order to impress others is really serious. Seriously pathetic, that is.

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” can’t stand such irksome quasi-intellectual preening. Why don’t such characters go out and buy T-shirts that read “I Very Much Want You To Know that I Am Smarter Than You”? It would save us the irritation of listening in to their stentorian pronouncements. And it would spare us of their opinions on the supposed masterly prose of whoever wrote The Devil Wears Prada.

And surely, dear reader, there is something particularly loathsome about a reader who feels far superior to ordinary Americans because they don’t read books by Paul Begala. Although we’re not a passel of born-again Calvinists, we think that not reading books by Paul Begala is a sign of grace.

Posted at December 30, 2004 12:01 AM | TrackBack