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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Book Store/Library (06/03/10)

TITLE: Build-a-Book
By Troy Manning


Build-a-Book. Intrigued by the store’s name, Eugenie entered and browsed its offerings. One area contained blank book covers of various textures and sizes; another, loose blank pages; still another, samples of different font choices.

Further back in the store were already assembled books, most of which included titles. As Eugenie continued on, she found the books became increasingly complete—ranging from those containing first lines for the more advanced writers, to those missing only the last line for absolute beginners. Eugenie considered herself something of a novice and looked through books containing first chapters.

Though she generally enjoyed romances, recent frustrations with her fiancé caused her to pass on that option. Neither westerns nor horror were ever her thing so she quickly dismissed those as well.

“Speculative Fiction.” Here was a genre with which she was unacquainted. She was startled to find one with not just a title, but also with the author’s name, and not just any name—but her own. She opened the book, entitled The Bookstore, and read.

It appeared normal enough from the outside. Even inside, it looked like your run-of-the-mill establishment. What captured Eugenie’s attention, however, were the way the books were displayed. Some were upside down; some had their spine facing inward; still others lay face down and open. If the store sold used books and had a particularly large stock, she could understand seeing some not properly filed away. Neither of these things was true here, though, and the store itself looked as if it had only recently opened.

Eugenie looked over at the woman reading quietly at the counter near the entrance. She wanted to ask about the haphazard presentation but felt embarrassed to do so. She picked up one of the open books and saw the print was in a language she didn’t recognize. Although not multilingual, Eugenie had begun college as a Journalism major with an emphasis in International Relations, so she was at least usually able to identify the general region from which a language hailed. The letters or characters in the book before her, however, left her stumped.

She turned over one of the upside down books to read its spine, but discovered the title was no more decipherable to her whichever way she turned it. Perhaps it was filed correctly after all. She returned the book to its place then removed the adjacent one with its pages facing outward. When she turned it around in expectation of finding its spine, she again saw the edges of pages. She gripped the unbound book more carefully then noticed that, strangely, its title page read Build-a-Book. She moved the page to the back and began to read.

“Build-a-Book. Intrigued by the store’s name, Eugenie entered and browsed its offerings. One area contained blank book covers of various textures and sizes; another…”

“Excuse me.” The interruption came from the woman at the counter, who was now approaching. “May I help you?”

Eugenie glanced down at the manuscript in her hands. “I don’t understand what’s going on.”

The woman calmly took it from Eugenie and placed it back on the shelf. She nodded toward a small placard on the shelf, “If you wish to see one of the volumes, please ask for assistance.”

“Why are you nodding to that? It’s blank.” Eugenie didn’t mean to sound rude, but between the woman’s taking the book away from her and the unfamiliarity of the situation, her nerves were becoming more difficult to manage.

“Perhaps you should start with one of our greeting cards that is blank inside rather than attempt to take on a novel.” She straightened the pages in her hands. “Of course if you’d rather not have to think at all, you can just purchase this then pick out a cover to have it bound in.”

Eugenie closed The Bookstore without finishing the chapter. She walked to the very back of the store where she chose a nearly complete romance to settle her nerves.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 06/11/10
Wow - what an intriguing thought and premise! Not sure I was completely following it all - but that very well may have been your point. I KNOW I will be back to read this one again. Thanks!
Seema Bagai 06/11/10
This is an interesting idea. A bit hard to follow, though. Perhaps putting the part she's reading in italics would help distinguish it from the action, even though there is overlap in the two. I can see this being part of a larger story. :-)
Phee Paradise 06/14/10
So "Alice in Wonderland." I loved it. Eugenie's circular experience was intriguing. The only place you lost me was when she started reading the first time. Maybe you could have indicated the shift with a colon or something similar.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/15/10
I like the idea, I think, although I'm not sure I entirely followed it. I like the take on the build a bear stores, it's certainly a fresh idea. It would be great for the writer with writer's block. I respect you for running with your out of the box idea. All too often I find myself afraid to wander too far from the box. Good job it gave me a nice little chuckle.