Besides working in a bookstore, one of my kooky life goals has been to make one of those “employee recommendations” you see in the front of bookstores. There seems to be so much power involved in the act of recommending a book to John Q. Public; you, as the bookstore employee, are seen as an expert. People will see my recommendation, and put their trust in my knowledge of books, bookselling and reading. With this one display, we booksellers are suddenly more than the dirt under your foot. We have meaning.
For my first recommendation, I suggested The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. If you remember, I reviewed it here a few months ago, calling it the best book I had read all year. I stand by that assessment. I’ve never been asked for The Brief Wondrous Life by any customer, but they should be asking for it–in droves. It’s provacative, poignant, funny, and with writing that approaches near brilliance, it’s perfect. It’s not exactly unknown (it did win the Pulitzer), but so far it’s slid under the radar of our collective attention. I doubt my little recommendation will do much, but it’s my stand, and I’m proud of it.