Susan Coll was now an established novelist when she started off doing the job at Politics and Prose in 2011, and she promised the store’s proprietors that she would not write some variety of comic driving-the-scenes account of the beloved Connecticut Avenue store. Oops. “I assured them that was not my intention,” states Coll, who ran the store’s programming and writer activities. “It definitely was not! It just transpired.”
Coll’s hottest novel, Bookish Folks, turns out to be a evenly fictionalized, hugely exaggerated, and extremely entertaining look at the life of beleaguered booksellers. So why did she go again on her promise? Right after Coll remaining that task in 2016, she continued obtaining the retailer manager’s stop-of-day e-mails. She was tickled by how typically the report pointed out issues with the vacuum cleaner, and for some motive that regimen housekeeping headache felt like a leaping-off point—just the “hilarity of it frequently becoming broken,” she states. “So I started off to produce.”
Absolutely sure more than enough, dust-sucking appliances participate in a humorous operating part in Bookish People today, but the novel is a lot more than a a single-notice workplace comedy: It also explores the suffocating stress and anxiety and foreboding that defines contemporary life—and that bookish people today frequently consider to escape by hanging out at destinations like P&P. The action mostly happens in August 2017, throughout the quick extend in between the violence in Charlottesville and the solar eclipse. Sophie, the store’s proprietor, is wrestling with “a creeping terror and inability to cope,” Coll writes. But she appreciates about a solution home inside the bookstore, which beckons as a place to hide—perhaps forever. All she wishes to do is crawl in, lock the door, and shut out the entire world. Who cannot relate? (The author claims, disappointingly, that Politics and Prose has no these kinds of hidden nook.)
When Coll made a decision to create all of this, she believed her time at P&P was driving her. But this spring she unexpectedly returned as a component-time situations adviser, encouraging the keep ramp up immediately after the shutdown. Becoming there all-around when her e book is coming out—and watching workers read through advance copies—is “very uncomfortable,” she states. On the additionally side: The vacuum now appears to be doing the job quite nicely.
Coll also serves as board president for the PEN/Faulkner Foundation—raising the concern of no matter if her following novel could possibly be set within the wacky environment of a DC literary corporation. The probability has led to a lot of jokes close to PEN/Faulkner, but Coll claims she isn’t preparing nearly anything alongside these lines. That’s what she promised with P&P, even though, so . . . . “No,” Coll insists, laughing. “I am not composing that e-book.” Take into account it a possibly.
This short article appears in the August 2022 situation of Washingtonian.