Adagio at the Dollar Store
It waits there on a back shelf at the Dollar Store, a slim volume with tasteful cover, dust jacket intact, scarred only by an ugly line of bleeding black marker slashing its bottom edge. I am intrigued by the title (intellectual, yet playful) and I flip through the pages, give a modest nod of recognition as in reuniting with a seldom-considered friend, and place the book in my basket. With tax its value is one dollar plus five cents.
Although the stack of others-to-be-read threatens to topple beside my bed, it is to this novel I turn first. The cover is lovely, just the way such things should be. The author is middle-aged, and the crinkled eyes of her photo on the back flap smile out with expectant enthusiasm. Her mouth is a timid question.
"Do you like my work?" she seems to ask. "Would you want to know the characters further?"
My answers are yes to both questions.
I research her name and uncover precious little. This debut hardback is indeed her sole published work, and it has been out of print for any number of years, a paperback edition never issued. Silken lyrical prose. Haunting characters. A so-called "quiet" novel, not the stuff of blockbuster fame. One of those works for which word-of-mouth must prove the surest publicity, and when that dies, when all potential readers and all friends of potential readers have been alerted and exhausted, these bound words, this dream dies softly with neither a bang nor a whimper, only to face a brief resurrection on an industrial metal shelf cosseted between neon plastic flyswatters and kitty litter.
It is a June day and the sun is shining.
Mara Buck writes and paints in a self-constructed hideaway in the Maine woods. Awarded/short-listed by Faulkner-Wisdom, the Hackney Awards, and others, with work in Drunken Boat, HuffPost, Crack the Spine, Blue Fifth, Writing Raw, Pithead Chapel, Apocrypha, Maine Review, tishman Review, Carpe Articulum, Linnet's Wings, The Lake, Whirlwind, as well as in numerous print anthologies. A novel is forthcoming.