Dear Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse,
This is, I promise, a thank you note. I’ve read about the hate mail and the threatening phone calls, all tied to an ugly, bizarre conspiracy theory that’s upended your cozy block of shops and restaurants. (The false story and its aftermath are detailed in this Washington Post story: Pizzagate: From rumor to hashtag to gunfire in D.C.)
I was thinking that if you’re anything like the rest of us, you need extra good will and love to drown out the hurtful stuff. I was thinking it might help to hear from those of us who know the real you. So here’s five of my favorite things about Politics and Prose.
Also known as the space you gave my writing group, a few women trying to make a go of fiction-writing. We spent hours there, huddled over coffee and treats, trading chapters, critiques and laughs. We were never shushed or asked to move along. On dreary days we’d run with dripping umbrellas across the always crowded parking lot and open the door to packed tables of fellow dreamers, writers, book lovers and kindred spirits. It was my can’t miss appointment, a place that represented connection and creativity in my harried mom life. (Also: I hear you now have a happy hour. Brilliant.)
Your Author Events
I love these so much I included some of your children’s author events in a previous article: “Is Your Child a Reluctant Reader/Writer? Take Them To a Show.” There are so many opportunities for readers of all ages and tastes to meet their favorite authors at Politics and Prose; here’s the event calendar.
Honestly, these events are like rock shows for book lovers. Take Maria Semple, author of the brilliant Where’d You Go, Bernadette and her latest, Today Will Be Different. She gave us over an hour of honest insights about herself (if she hadn’t come up with Bernadette, she might well be a menace to society), wit (Seattle drivers actually stop at yellow lights; what is that?!), and details of how she approaches her craft. For starry-eyed fans like me, it’s such a gift to meet your literary idol. Also, please note Maria’s amazing self-restraint in not backing away as I move in a little extra close in the photo below.
The YouTube Channel
If you missed a book event, never fear: you can still catch your favorite authors in the comfort of your living room, from Stephen King to best fiction staff picks. Here’s an interview with Trevor Noah on his book Born a Crime, about growing up in South Africa at a time when being the child of parents of two different races was, literally, a crime.
Somehow you seem to hire folks who are as helpful as they are well-read. And we customers can be quite vague. As in, “So I have a person who needs to read more but isn’t all that interested in fiction or really nonfiction either…” And you do it somehow, you find us those perfect books where our kids roll their eyes, reluctantly pick up the book, then immerse themselves, emerging only for food. Call it booktopia. It’s a good state.
The heart of course, of your entire operation: the stories we pick up from the tables, the ones handed to us by helpful staff, the signed copies we protectively clutch to our chests. Stories that build understanding and empathy, stories that leave us laughing, shaken, fired up. We need access to such stories now more than ever.
One of my most recent Politics and Prose purchases was in your children’s department. I told the staff person that we loved Wonder by R.J. Palacio; she recommended Ugly by Robert Hoge. The one line description: “A beautiful true story about one very ugly kid.” It was just that, so beautiful in fact that you no longer see the ugly in the end, just the formidable strength of our hero Robert.
Here’s to telling and sharing our stories of Politics and Prose, Comet Ping Pong, Little Red Fox and all the surrounding businesses; here’s to telling them enough so that ugly lies are overcome by the beautiful true story of one strong community.
See you all soon. I think we’re all due some pizza and a good book.