Tuesday was Alice Munro's birthday. I found a quote of hers for the sandwich board, something she said during an Atlantic Unbound Interview -- "that's something I think is growing on me as I get older: happy endings..." Almost as soon a I put out the board, I had a customer walk into Miss P's looking for happy endings. "I like a good story," she said, "but I don't like blood and gore." She picked up Martha Grimes, The Old Contemptibles, and thought that might be okay. I told her that I was reading The Mineral Palace by Heidi Julavits. I warned that I wasn't through with it. Yes, it was about the 1930s, the Depression, dust storms and Pueblo (bloody subjects), but I was sure the heroine, Bena Duse Jonssen, would pick the right numbers, follow the right stars and make a happy ending out of it.
My customer bought The Mineral Palace, too.
I finished The Mineral Palace this morning. I kept rooting for Bena, rooting for Little Ted. But tragedy couldn't be kept at bay. My customer, if she ever comes back, will probably ask why I recommended a book with such a gloomy ending.
Well, it was a good story and well-written. I, for one, will be reading more Julavits. Miss Prothero's Books does have The Effect of Living Backwards on the shelf. I won't be mad at you if you get to it before I do. Miss P also has another copy of The Mineral Palace.