I don’t know about you, but I find I hardly ever get as much reading done on vacation as I think I will. And that’s okay; usually it means there’s been sightseeing and visiting and talking late at night and eating and museum-going aplenty.
As I mentioned not too long ago, recently we visited family and friends in Denver, which was delightful. I brought along War of the Encyclopaedists, which I started and finished on the trip, as well as Annie Proulx’s Close Range: Wyoming Stories. I figured something with a Western vibe that I could read in short chunks would be a good choice, and it was, if grimmer than expected. Close Range includes Brokeback Mountain, the basis of the movie of the same name, and all things considered it’s one of the brighter stories in the collection. Close Range is visceral reading—Ms. Proulx has an extraordinary gift for rendering place, and her characters are both strange and real.
That’s two books, and extraordinary restraint in book-packing on my part, I must say. There’s a reason for that: I had a list of about a dozen bookstores I wanted to visit in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder, but I only made it to two (guess I’ll just have to go back, darn).
First up was the Tattered Cover, Denver’s largest and most famous independent bookstore. It has several outposts, and I visited the store on Colfax, where I picked up Gregory Pardlo‘s Pulitzer-Prize winning Digest. I read it over the next few days and finished it on the plane, and I highly recommend it. The poems are about origins and identity, fatherhood and what it means to be American. They’re very, very good, and packed with intellectual energy; I want to re-read them all again.
Next I went to one of my uncle’s favorite bookstores, Colorado’s Used Bookstore in Englewood. It’s an unassuming store, with a huge selection of genre paperbacks, an eclectic poetry section, and a huge set of back rooms for nonfiction and trade paperbacks. The woman I met, who I believe owns the store, was very friendly and helpful, and pointed out that they sell books online, including hard-to-find books.
At Colorado’s Used Bookstore I found Ghost Ship by Mary Kinzie and On the Bus with Rosa Parks, by Rita Dove (both poetry), Moral Disorder (a collection of Margaret Atwood stories), Joseph Boyden’s Through Black Spruce (I loved The Orenda and Three-day Road) and Louise Erdrich’s Tracks (still can’t stop thinking about The Round House). I can’t wait to dive into these.
Next time in Colorado, I’ll be trying for those other ten bookstores, and I’d like to look up some Colorado writers before I go, to find their work in its native habitat.
And what about you, Dear Readers? Do you race through books on vacation, or pack more than you can read?