This story has been set to a rating of PG-13. Age verification is required to proceed.
On Monday afternoon, Tina and her PA went for a long lunch and then Tina took the bus down to Broadway to go hang out at the Strand Bookstore. When you’re stuck or overwhelmed or need to jump the rails creatively, Tina, connect with the world. Listen to people talking, watch their mannerisms. Remember who we tell stories for. Those were the words of her first boss in the film industry. And now, as Tina wandered the stacks, she felt that advice working its magic again . . .
The smell of books pinched Tina’s nose; that dense, dusty, woody scent. The Strand was one of the reasons they’d bought their house on East 12th Street. Bette came down at least once a week. They knew the staff. They got invited to private events. A home from home, really.
Nineteenth-century fiction was where she’d wandered today: the birth of the novel, books she’d studied in high school, in college. Some of these titles had been reappearing in her house the past year or so, as Angie read deeper and deeper, her appetite ever-sharpening. Tina looked up, at edition after edition after edition of Dickens, Whitman, Thackeray, Beecher Stowe, Austen, Eliot . . .
She picked up an old hardback and opened it randomly.
Dorothea had gathered emotion as she went on, and had forgotten everything except the relief of pouring forth her feelings unchecked: an experience once habitual with her, but hardly ever present since her marriage, which had been a perpetual struggle of energy with fear.
She stared at the black typeface. Ran her fingers over the page. The paper – thin, almost translucent – debossed from the force of the metal type being struck against it. It was violent, but also sensual. Romantic. She smiled as she imagined all these men, filthy and sweating, composing page after page of type by hand in the service of stories about women feeling some kind of way, as the kids said nowadays.
Tina closed the book gently, gave it a little squeeze and placed it back on the shelf. The phone call she’d received earlier that morning had set her mind awhirr, but now she had a mission. Get a book for Angie, maybe something for Bette . . . But probably not another copy of Middlemarch.