‘Sto­ried Life of A.J. Fikry’ is a book for book lovers

Serve Daily - - EMPOWERING LIBERTY - By Deb­bie Bal­zotti

Some­times I choose a New York Times best­seller book be­cause the re­views make it sound re­ally, re­ally good. Some­times I get burned - but not this time. “Funny, ten­der, and mov­ing, ‘The Sto­ried Life of A.J. Fikry’ re­minds us all ex­actly why we read....” That’s just one of the hooks that caught my at­ten­tion.

A.J. Fikry is a lonely book­store owner who has hit rock-bot­tom. He lives a soli­tary life af­ter the death of his beloved wife above his lit­tle book­store where his grumpy at­ti­tude and snobby book choices are about to put him out of busi­ness. And now his rare col­lec­tion of Poe po­ems has been stolen while he lay passed out in a sad, drunken stu­por. What’s left to live for?

Of course things sud­denly change and A.J. dis­cov­ers he has many rea­sons to con­tinue living and sell­ing books. An en­ter­tain­ing cast of sup­port­ing char­ac­ters bring him back to life and love and he learns that not ev­ery­thing comes from books. Lessons about love and for­give­ness and re­demp­tion have to be ex­pe­ri­enced in real life.

I loved the au­thor’s nar­ra­tive style and use of lan­guage. A whole­sale book sales rep is des­per­ately try­ing to find some­thing he will buy for his store, but he re­jects ev­ery sug­ges­tions. Fi­nally, she asks him to tell her what he likes.

“Like,” he re­peats with dis­taste, “How about I tell you what I don’t like? I do not like postm odern-ism, postapoc­alp­tic set t ings , post­mortem nar­ra­tors or magic re­al­ism. I find lit­er­ary fic­tion about the Holo­caust or any other ma­jor world tragedy to be dis­taste­ful – non­fic­tion only, please. Lit­er­ary should be lit­er­ary, and genre should be genre, and cross­breed­ing rarely re­sults in any­thing sat­is­fy­ing. I do not like any­thing over four hun­dred pages or un­der one hun­dred fifty pages. I am re­pulsed by ghost­writ­ten nov­els by re­al­ity tele­vi­sion stars, celebrity pic­ture books, sports mem­oirs, movie tie-in edi­tions, nov­elty items, and I imag­ine this goes with­out say­ing – vam­pires.”

As his rant con­tin­ues down the page, I find my head nod­ding in agree­ment. This is a book for those who love read­ing and small in­de­pen­dent book stores. I had to buy this book from a big book­store, but I will con­tinue to pur­chase as of­ten as pos­si­ble from book stores owned by char­ac­ters like A.J. Fikry.

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