When I was little, one of the first places my parents let me visit by myself was BookCourt, a bookstore around the corner from our house in Cobble Hill. My first solo expedition there ended in disaster. The blue BMX bike I rode was stolen from the store’s foyer. The consensus was that the bike had been taken by the squatters who, rumor had it, lived next to the shop. This was back when it wasn’t so shocking to hear that people squatted in Cobble Hill.
Even though my bike was stolen, I wasn’t deterred from BookCourt. I began stopping in on my way home from school, walking a block out of my way, even on the coldest days, even when it was dark out and I was late getting home, to read in the children’s section tucked away in the back of the store. My bedroom was filled with books, but there was something about the store, especially the backroom, that drew me in.
Every June one of my parents would take me to BookCourt and help me select my summer reading. We’d choose books, that despite being serious, since I didn’t have to read them for school, I’d consider fun. My mother leaned towards classics and my father snuck in some things I’m not quite sure are traditional middle school fare—Pynchon, Vonnegut, and Heinlein—most of which sailed well over my head.
Every once in a while, when I was writing The Art of Disappearing, and things weren’t going as well as I wished, I’d visit BookCourt. I’d stand outside the store and look at the new releases in the window and imagine my book being one of them. I’d imagine high school classmates and teachers noticing my name and buying my book. I’d hope that children picking out their summer reading, might one day select my novel.
Tomorrow my book will be in the place I’d always envisioned it. I cannot imagine a more fitting location to launch my novel than the bookstore which had no small part in inspiring me to write.