Dear Book Store Owner Who Believes my Novel will Not Serve His Customers Well

Dear Book Store Owner Who Believes My Novel Will Not Serve His Customers Well,
Thank you for the conversation
I was genuinely curious
how an opinion
was formed so fast
so confidently
You say
by a business degree
by running a book store for years
You say
you know your customers well

Seems that the back of the book troubles you the most
you say
offensive to the majority
you say
pushing an agenda
You suggest getting a hold of publishers
asking them to change the back of the book
opening possibilities of
finding space on your shelves

You look surprised when I say
I don’t wish to change the cover,
I don’t wish to cater and please a ‘majority’
I don’t wish to extinguish the kiss from the back of the book
I don’t wish to maintain the status quo
I don’t wish to remove and diminish visibility
complicated stories;
for too long
censored, snuffed, dulled and duped
by a system catering and pleasing a ‘majority’

I don’t wish to pretend there is singularity to stories
As you suggest by saying:
“I would prefer you’d written your own story,”
And I wonder about the word preference,
how a preference can be made when
there’s no clear knowledge of what is being preferred
I soon realize your preference:
a heterosexual story
a man loving woman story
a woman loving man story
a story that conforms to the dominant cultural ‘majority’ story
My marriage to a man, a story you’d prefer

‘Within lies multitudes,’ Audre Lorde says
and I doubt Mr. Book Store Owner
you’d prefer my multitudes

And still I thank you for not hiding behind vague justifications
for being honest
for having the conversation
shedding light on fear
a fear that continues to exclude discriminate extinguish
visibility of lives
lives that matter
lives who have a right
onto the shelves of your bookstore

There is much we can learn from one another
I learn there is much fear in disrupting the majority
this possible boat rocking for the sake of inclusiveness
putting you in an uncomfortable vulnerable position
possibility of disruption and conflict
I learn reputations ride comfortably on straight and narrow lines
And perhaps this isn’t the right time for you
to step off straight and narrow

My hope
courage and vulnerability
finds you
finds all of us one day
and the ‘Soul’ in your Bookstore’s name,
the Art and Soul of this world
will come to mean the Art and Soul of ALL
and not just the soul of a ‘majority’
by Maureen St.Clair

big island small

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