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Friday, April 2, 2010
I had never heard of Robert B. Parker before the Hannaford Supermarket clerk dumped a pile of his books into the dollar bin at the front of the store. The store takes donations of books and then puts them out front with a suggested donation of a dollar to a different charity each month. Honestly that bin of books has earned them more of my money than any of their fine cheeses or their good frozen appetizer selection because I make excuses to shop two or three times a week more than is necessary. I always wonder what I'm going to find in the bargain bin and some days I walk out with some huge prizes for a buck.
About a month ago I finished my shopping and went to the bargain bin and there was a copy of the 12 step and 12 traditions AA book, a book I'd been wanting but I have had no desire to go to an AA meeting to get one. I had neglected to get change and the smallest bill I had was a ten. So of course I had to buy nine more books to fill my quota! I looked and looked and couldn't find anything even worth storing for $9 and then the lady came from the back with some new unsorted boxes of books. Jackpot I thought but the books were all detective novels, a genre I don't read at all, and there were several books from this Parker fellow. I figured if he was truly terrible that he wouldn't have more than one book and after reading the back and seeing they were all set in Boston sealed the deal, I picked up the 12 with the most tawdry covers and back cover descriptions and put my $10 in the box. I figured if nothing else I would have a Lonely Planet guide to Boston on the cheap.
Once I got them home and started reading I realized that I had stumbled on to the Pringles of literature.
This book was a book about a detective named Spenser that has a lawyer friend named Rita and a bad ass of a friend names Hawk. It took me a trip through Wikipedia to realize that this was the same guy in all those Spenser for Hire shows that my parents watched while I was growing up. It was a pop culture connecting of the dots that made me go "ah ha". The book went super fast, it was about four hours cover to cover and I don't remember putting it down for any extended time. Most books wear on me after a couple of hours and I either need to put them down to gather my thoughts or need to put them down just because my brain is burning and I'm not paying attention. This book was easy on the mind, just like a Sandler movie or sit-com.
Most of my book collection is secretly picked out so that I can be caught reading it at a small independent coffee shop. Someone that knows me would walk up and say hi, I thought that was you over there. I would then say yes that was me in the corner reading Dostoevsky, don't you think his storytelling is so poignant? With Robert C. Parker I'm sure I'll be caught in the corner of a downtown Burger King while the kids run around screaming on the play place. We will all be having a fantastic time.