“Book Club Who Hates Books” by Gretchen Anthony

To start: No one hates the books at “The Book Haters’ Book Club,” Gretchen Anthony’s vibrant Minneapolis-based anthem for small independent bookstores and the people who keep it going against the tide. This story is not about books at all, but about the subtle dynamics between mothers, daughters, and partners (domestic and otherwise).

Irma Bedford is the old owner of the Lyn-Lake Over the Rainbow Bookstore, which her late business partner, Elliot, named in honor of his beloved Judy Garland. (Anthony’s name is validated by Magers & Quinn and Moon Palace, but the rainbow is a product of her imagination.) It’s the kind of place where someone might come to find a book on Cubism for their 4-year-old grandson. It’s also the kind of place a big bad developer might want to buy and tear down to build some soulless apartments.

To frustrate her daughter Brie and Elliot’s life partner, Thom, Irma intends to let this happen. Thom is still struggling with Elliott’s loss and mostly wants a fair share of the proceeds from the sale. Brie, who has pushed 40 and there seems to be no life outside the store, is getting close to hysterical at the news. And the wild card, daughter Lani, paying 40 (lisa twins – it’s complicated), blows from California with her unresolved feelings for her mother, sister, librarian, and the Neanderthal husband she left behind.

Brie, Thom and Lani mend their breakup long enough to form a gang aimed at undermining the sale, a stunt that involves a man in a long coat and a nightly dance party at a nearby vacant lot to garner publicity. But this end game is just nonsense, and another crunch pops its head in the middle of the novel, thanks to Irma’s quirks about why it’s being sold.

Ah, Irma is insanely extroverted. The mystery surrounding her intentions and her true feelings for Elliot lends a welcoming air of mystery to the project; We’re not quite sure if she’s a villain or a victim in the whole scheme. We know it’s an integral and lovable part of the close-knit neighborhood, one with the family-owned hardware store next door and the trendy distillery across the street. Anthony brilliantly evokes a “Lyn-Lake” that is no different from the real one.

And she converted some pretty phrases – Thom was “so skinny that he was beautiful once upon a time.” [sweaters] Hanging from his bones, rotting textiles on an old manor wall. Bree, in her hesitant worry about a possible new love, began to sound like Jane Austen’s character. Not someone as irreplaceable as Elizabeth or Jane, but someone as boring and funny as their mother. But Anthony often slips into bland descriptions and dialogue, and Eliot—who springs out of the grave with ‘Dear Reader’ interludes, is particularly annoying.

But these are quirks. Domestic readers will be delighted with the references that fill the pages – Turtle Bread! Sweets 46! Bde Maka Ska! – Readers of all tapes will address the actual book recommendations that appear. So maybe it’s the Book-Hater Book Club. he is About books, only a little. As a grandmother researching Cubism says, “A neighborhood without a bookstore is as boring as life without books.”

Cynthia Dixon is a feature designer at Star Tribune.

Book haters book club

by: Gretchen Anthony.

publisher: Park Row, 336 pages, $28.99.

events: Book Launch, In Conversation with Josh Mulling, 7 p.m. Sept. 12, Magers & Quinn, Mpls.; In conversation with Nicole Kronzer and Mindy Mejia, 7 p.m. September 15, SubText Books, St. Paul; Literature Lovers Night, 7 p.m. September 28, Zephyr Theatre, Stillwater, tickets $15.

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