Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

The Drugstore Habit

I used to have a bad habit of going to the drugstore on a Sunday evening and dropping a decent sum of money on random stuff that I suddenly realized I needed: razor blades, acne medication that promised to work, cases of RC cola, issues of Lowrider magazine, that new Michael Crichton novel, whatever. And at various points in my geography, the drug store became a Target, which is basically a drug store but they also sell furniture and motor oil and low-end clothes. And I guess for a year, it was a Marsh grocery store, but Marsh pretty much was just a drug store that also sold 36 aisles of food. I think one of the reasons I did this is because in Indiana, everything closes at 5:00 PM on a Sunday, except Osco’s and Walgreens. (And grocery stores and Target…) And in a need to do something on Sundays, I’d go to the only thing open, and it was hypnotic, and I would suddenly realize I’d need dental floss, or beef jerky, and boom… $57.86 of consumer goodness.

And now I realize that I can’t really shop at pharmacies anymore; they have become colluded over the years. I went to a CVS last night (shampoo, glasses cleaner, legal pads, facial cleanser) and it was just impossible to shop. Maybe it was a New York thing, but whatever hypnotic spell the drug stores of 10 or 15 years ago in Indiana had, these ones had the total opposite. The aisles were spaced wrong, the ceiling height was different, everything was laid out in this “get-your-stuff-and-get-the-fuck-out” manner that broke the spell for me. And I had a friend that used to soapbox on this for ages, but drug stores have gradually sunk into this hole. It used to be drug stores had a soda fountain, and ice cream cones and a sandwich bar, and you went there to relax. They were like the Cheers bar, but no alcohol. And if you needed some tincture of iodine too, they had it. And when’s the last time you saw a drug store with a soda bar? You haven’t, because all of those old-timey stores with the hand-painted signs and the zinc ceilings and whatnot got bought out and gutted, and replaced with an exact clone of the CVS store that they have in 5,700 other cities. Has anyone written a book about this? Someone should. (Not me, though!)

I am in the middle of trying to get book 3 going. I know there are really like 9 books or whatever, but there are basically only two (Summer Rain and Rumored to Exist) and all of the other ones are greatest-hits/live at the Budokon sort of things that don’t “count”. So now, book three. And I need another book like Rumored. I need ten like Rumored. So this time, I’m trying to write a full outline, with three acts and all of that shit, for a book, and then I will have a whole plot, and I won’t have to play the “it’s a book about nothing” game that made 98% of the people out there look at me like I was starting a NAMBLA chapter in the back of a day care center. The book will have all of the expected dark zaniness of Rumored, but be a book. I think. I hope. But no word on this until it’s underway, because this is the part I always fuck up.

Not much else. I wish I was back in Alaska now. OK, back to work.