|Jackson Street Booksellers, Omaha|
Going to Omaha is a bit like going to Rome when you live in a small midwestern town. It's a much more vibrant city than you might think from the insurance companies (Woodman) and gloomy buildings on the skyline in the Jack Nicholson movie, About Schmidt. There are plenty of bookstores--the reason this post is appearing--as well as the Joslyn Art Museum, restaurants, coffeehouses, antique stores, and many shops in a downtown area near the river.
We had originally planned to go to Minneapolis but who feels like that long drive on a Saturday morning? There's no "Are-we-there?'-ing when we go to Omaha--we're there before you know it.
Our first stop: A Stitch in Crime, one of the few mystery bookstores left in the midwest. The owner carries many small-press titles I covet and also sells cross-stitch and embroidery supplies. We've seen her stitching group--is it called Stitch and Bitch?--meeting on Saturday afternoon. Today, however, it was just she and her cat.
I considered Corpse De Ballet, a novel with a ballerina detective, and wonder why on earth I didn't buy it. I also considered Muriel Spark's Aiding and Abetting, brilliantly marketed as a mystery, but I had a feeling it would turn up at the used bookstore (it didn't). In the end I bought David Wishart's Illegally Dead, a historical Roman mystery featuring the comic detective, Marcus Corvinus. His books are hard to find: this was an import.
Couldn't I have bought all those books? Well, I'd made a deal. One book at each store. What a good idea!
Next: Jackson Street Booksellers is a huge used bookstore, located downtown in a half-touristy shopping area near the river. The books are on shelves so tall we can't see the top ones, the aisles are so narrow that one stumbles and can't pass another shopper without, "Excuse me. I'll just climb over you here," and yet it's totally worth it. I'm afraid I knocked over a stack in the aisle at one point but fortunately the owner ignored me while I picked up the pieces. It was crowded, a good sign, and we broke the one-book-per-store vow by purchasing more than one William Golding title and a few other books which are now sitting across the room on the table and I can't be bothered to list them.
And then--let me just mention the Currier & Ives exhibit at the Joslyn Art Museum. Yes, if you're on my Christmas card list, you are getting a Currier & Ives card this year. There was also a very moving exhibit of 70 paintings drawings, and prints by Kent Bellows, an Omaha artist (1949-2005), whose "hyper-realistic" charcoal drawings and acrylic paintings look exactly like photographs. Go here to see a gallery of his work.