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BOOK REVIEW

The Bookstore At The End of America

found in Even Greater mistakes

by charlie jane anders

Short Story List

  1. As Good As New
  2. Rat Catcher’s Yellow
  3. If You Take my Meaning
  4. The Time Travel Club
  5. Six Months, Three Days
  6. Love Might Be Too Strong a Word
  7. Fairy Werewolf vs. Vampire Zombie
  8. Ghost Champagne
  9. My Breath is a Rudder
  10. Power Couple
  11. Rock Manning Goes For Broke
  12. Because Change Was The Ocean and We Lived by Her Mercy
  13. Captain Roger in Heaven
  14. Clover
  15. This is Why We Can’t Have Nasty Things
  16. A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime
  17. The Bookstore At The End of America
  18. The Visitmothers

The Bookstore at the end of america

I first read The Bookstore at the End of America by Charlie Jane Anders when it appeared in A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers, which offered exciting perspectives. Even then, I found this story to be one of the best and most memorable of the volume. Maybe it is because I am such a bibliophile, or perhaps as an American, the political divide hits home. Either way, this story is pretty special to me. I am now doubly happy that Anders has included it in her upcoming release, Even Greater Mistakes. 

The first thing to understand about this story is the context in which Anders built the world. The United States is impossibly divided and has diverged culturally. This bookstore sits on the border of California and the rest of the United States, with sections of the store catering to both groups. It is a veritable Switzerland in that it does not take a stand but remains neutral because books are for everyone. And that is the crux and main theme of the story; books and ideas can bring folks together as much as divide them. Whether you are a “hipster” from California and look at the perspective of communities working together with a hive mentality or from the south and view life through a very conservative lens, books are neutral. They are ideas put to paper. 

One of the story’s strengths is the neutrality that Anders employs when writing. I don’t think the story could work if there were a political lean. She uses the ridiculousness of both sides as a way to bring the sides together and force them to work with each other. We discover that we aren’t so different. It is a powerful message condensed down into a tight package. 

 

Beth Tabler

Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest  / Twitter

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