Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drop the Needle #4

GENRE: Upmarket

Tanya has been dating Cassia, a performance artist, who has hidden everything about herself, including her real name. The two women have a wonderful date, but all day Cassia surprises Tanya with small insights into herself.

“Where to?” she asked.

“I always leave the best for last,” I said with a wink and then led her to the book store.

She focused on the cheaper hardbacks that were accessible to the public, like Capote and a recent edition of a Tom Wolfe novel. But I slipped away to the books locked behind a glass door. One book in particular caught my attention.

“What edition is that ‘Anna Karenina’?” I asked.

The saleswoman pulled it out to look. “Translated by Nathan Haskell Dole, 1886.”

The first English translation. I wanted to feel the clothbound hard cover over crisp pages that crackled when opened. I wanted to put my nose close to its musty scent.

“Would you like for me to wrap that up?” she asked.

I didn’t have to look at the price. Buying that leather skirt was foolish. I still couldn’t have afforded it if I didn’t buy the skirt, but maybe if I had started saving ... Sighing, I shook my head.

Cassia came over, picked up the book, and laid it on the counter. She set her purse beside it and pulled out a few large bills. “Happy birthday,” she said.

I stared at the book and willed myself to not hyperventilate. “It’s not my birthday.”

“Then merry early Christmas,” she said with a smile in her voice.

She paid for the gift while I remained fixed on this perfect book to start my dream collection.


  1. Hooray for book nerds! I appreciated the sensory descriptions. Touch and smell are particularly evocative. No question that this is a special gift for the protagonist.

    I did wonder if you could have included a more general description of the book store, like the layout of the shelves or something. It might help to visualize the scene. Good luck!

  2. I loved the descriptions here, the immersion in the experience of that book.

    I felt like some of the rest of it was clunky and telly. The last sentence fell flat when it could have been really powerful, closing out such a significant moment. Also the second paragraph was awkward and wordy for explaining such a simple and common thing as lingering in front of the bestseller table.

  3. I guess I don't know what Upmarket is, but overall I understood the scene. I too felt the last sentence fell flat. I wanted more of a reaction out of the MC when Casia bought the book for her. I thought maybe just clunking her purse down on the counter was a little small as well. There was nice build-up, but then it was a let down, even though I knew it should have been a let-up! Good luck with this.

  4. Interesting scene, however I think you can do much more with the smell of the bookstore, the smell of the book, the sound of the pages. I get more a sense of desire ("I want to put my nose...") and much less a sense of what the book smells like. Also, I'm wondering why the salesperson who ask about wrapping the book without any discussion about price/agreement to buy. Maybe I'm simply shopping at different stores. Finally, I want to say that I don't have a problem with the last sentence because I don't know if this is the end of the scene or simply the 250 word mark.

  5. Cassia certainly comes off as intriguing since she buys the book on the spot. Although you do have some nice details, you could do more with the bookstore's sensory details and the sections of the bookstore as metaphors. I think what's important about the last line is that she's focusing on her coming dream collection, not on Cassia. Tighten the last sentence and it will work better. I find Tanya to be interesting, too, because of her attraction to the book.

  6. I didn't know who was speaking in this scene. That may be because we are entering the scene already in motion.

    o The line where she asks about Anna Karenina, I had no idea who she was talking to. Consider inserting a conversation tag after the line.

    I'm not feeling much tension in this scene. Perhaps the saleswoman looks at her sceptically, guessing she can't afford it? Or maybe she refuses the book as too expensive and there's a little verbal tussel before she finally accepts it? That would help lift up the last line.

    A bookstore lover myself, I think you might want to linger a little longer describing the store. Let her date see how much she loves books.