I’m delighted to take my literary road trip back down south right now — smack dab in the middle of the darkest, coldest and wettest season in the Pacific Northwest. I could use a sun break. I’ll admit that it didn’t take too much online research to find the South Carolina bookstore that sounds just right to me. With a name like Fiction Addiction, how could I miss? I’ll admit to suffering from that same problem myself and having no need for rehab. While I occasionally pick up a nonfiction title, fiction is definitely my addiction. This bookstore seems a natural match.
I read on their website that the owner of Fiction Addiction is from South Carolina originally and that she spent five years in New York working as an editor at St. Martin’s Press — excellent credentials! Also, I’m drawn to the events and other bookish offerings I find listed. First, I notice the “For Local Authors” link: If you are a local author with a publishing contract with a New York publisher, we would love to get an advance reading copy of your forthcoming book so that we can help start some early buzz for you. This bookstore apparently goes out of its way to support local writers and I think that’s awesome. And they don’t only support the big time New York published authors, but also offer creative ways to stock books by local writers and published by indie presses. I like that too. Additional resources for writers include links to the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop and a list of local writing groups with contact information — lovely.
Possibly my favorite offering from this bookstore is called “Book Your Lunch.” This is a program to connect readers with writers by bringing them together over lunch. What a fabulous idea! The bookstore invites authors to a local restaurant to read from or talk about their latest book and follow that with lunch and a book signing. Now that sounds like something we Seattleites could really get into. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the Elliott Bay Book Company or Third Place Books adds this to their agenda.
And so it is with completely positive feelings that I make the call to Fiction Addiction. The woman who picks up the phone is pleasant and seemsinterested in my project. When I explain that I’m looking for recommendations for a book or two of fiction that is particularly evocative of South Carolina, her initial response is, “Oh my!” She takes some time to consider my request, and I can’t help filling the silence by talking about The Prince of Tides as an example of the kind of book I’m interested in reading. Though I read this novel years ago, I still remember how it dropped me right into the low country, filled with shrimp boats and salt marshes, and how I could practically smell the humid southern air while reading it. The bookseller (I’m sorry I didn’t as her name) admits that she has not read Prince of Tides and I try not to judge that. Instead, I enthusiastically suggest that she add it to her to-read list and reiterate the kind of novel I’m looking for. We talk a little bit about what Greenville is like, she suggests I look up Falls Park in downtown Greenville and so I find this beautiful photo:
After some thought, the woman recommends Dorothea Benton Frank, an author I’m not familiar with, and I suggest she send along whichever of Frank’s titles she likes the best. “She’s very popular around here.” She tells me. “But her books are not exactly literary — more of a beach read.” I tell her that’s fine with me, since I’m on my way to Hawaii soon. As I’m giving her my billing information, I can’t help myself, so I ask her to send along a copy of Prince of Tides, too. It has been so many years since I’ve read that novel. It’s a classic. And it must certainly be one of the best novels set in South Carolina ever. I can’t wait to re-read it.