Last night, Ada Books received its first-ever award for excellence in anything: Best Bookshop for Literati. The award was granted by Rhode Island Monthly, a slick but only slightly garish magazine whose motto seems to be, "It's swell to live in the nation's smallest state!" Notice came via mail almost a month ago that I had won and that there would be a party and wouldn't I like to come? I threw this notice away along with the pounds of junk I get in my mailbox every week. (Who knows how many other worthy awards I might have thrown away?) By phone, a week or so ago, I was asked why I hadn't RSVPed. There'll be a party; wouldn't I like to come? I told the phone that I thought it might be a scam of some kind or even worse, a joke. But this was no joke, I was told. This was for charity. The complimentary tickets came a few days later. So, my wife and I clipped on our black ties (Well, my wife doesn't actually wear a tie. She believes a naked throat better suits her burgundy cumberbund.), fixed our dos (which were then ruined by an early evening rain storm) and walked over to the Providence Performing Arts Center. Inside, we (along with everybody else) were met by flashbulbs, as if we were important or something. Farther inside, we were met by free booze and food and a few congratulatory speeches, including one from the mayor of Providence (the Tom Thumb of modern American mayors). And after we indulged with our friends and fellow award winners (and after I over-indulged with cheese and beer) we were given a framed testimony to the bestiness of Ada Books along with a copy of this month's Rhode Island Monthly (published today) with this little item on page fifty-eight: No chains, no massive inventory, no glossy facade. Ada Books is a good old-fashioned shop-around-the-corner. Its alcove-like interior may not have a coffeeshop, but it's got sky-high shelves of novels and poetry, just the thing for a lazy afternoon or browsing in anticipation of a long trip. If a great book is a world unto itself, this small oasis in the midst of mainstream commercialism is a micro-cosm of just that. Poetry readings add to the allure. Did you hear that, Stranger? Somebody out there thinks that Ada Books has allure!


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