Thursday, September 11, 2014

Booksmith Visits: Montague Bookmill (montage book milk)

As fate would have it I have been called upon to attend very few weddings at this particular time in my life. It should be mentioned that I am nearing (arguably, have arrived at) a wedding-appropriate age and my lack of weddings could change, very shortly, as my peers begin pairing up. It was pairhood itself that compelled me to attend a wedding in Western Massachusetts last Saturday; my girlfriend's cousin and his partner got hitched in a sweltering town hall while morose, bulbous clouds leaked overhead. I regrettably report, I did not perform admirably. The humidity and crowds coalesced into a sharp din inside my skull and I was abruptly excused from family obligation when I refused to re-enter community space and instead hid, perched on an outside stairwell, doing breathing exercises and suckling at a can of soda as if it contained some miraculous antidote. We left, shortly afterwards, for Amherst, to relay a back up cell phone to my sister who recently had need for one.

"we're on our way to you now", I texted to her, "we are just gonna drop the phone off and leave though, I want to go to montage book milk".

iPhone's autocorrect function had traded the name "Montague Bookmill" for the abstract "montage book milk". From here on, it shall be referred to as the same.

After winding our way through some stringent student acropolis, my sister stood, barefoot, by the running car as we retold the details of our brief wedding experience. She then told us, enthusiastically, that she loved the book milk, and that I would love it too. She told me they had beer there, too, a detail that should always accompany a description told to me about any venue, if it happens to be the truth. The things I will endure while drinking a beer are many, nevermind things I actually like, such as browsing a book store. The store's catchphrase happens to be, "Books You Don't Need in a Place You Can't Find", something so tongue-in-cheek as to delight anyone, but as someone who relies on the supply and demand of the book industry to keep a business afloat and provide them their livelihood, I am downright tickled by this. Fused with the term "montage bookmilk" and a the prospect of a totally free afternoon, I'm one giddy idiot.  

As we pulled up to the Bookmilk, those turgid clouds were looking fully ominous. We moved through a heavy, wet air, into the book store. Inside, a labrynth of stairwells and sofa alcoves, antiques peppering unused corners, and books. Plenty of used books. Such a store could possibly only exist in the wilds of Western MA, where students keep a contemporary culture alive but industry is somewhat less than overbearing. There is still a certain earnest curiosity left out there, what with all that accumulated soul searching energy generated by mass quantities of 20-somethings all living, compact, in roughly the same town. In Brookline, Booksmith is known by its unique wooden floors - the creaking beauty mark of our otherwise actively current store - but we are in the Bookmilk now, and a wooden floor would be a paltry offering indeed to a behemoth of arcadia such as this. A musty smell of wood and paper lies down every narrow hallway, a leathered smell, what people believe academia will smell like when they are on the precipice of entering it. Everything creeks as you move around the store, and there are nooks and old seats to ferret out, not to mention errant curiosities closed in cabinets or left out as if arranged by some absent person, suddenly and swiftly called away. 

A flutter of typewriters 

VIP seating


Outside the windows lining the back of the store runs the Sawmill River, a thin stream that once powered a grain mill in the same building in the early 20th century. As I was promised, there is a cafe connected, and if you are so inclined you can sit and have a beer and look out of the windows at the river hastening past. In this cafe they had a few things on tap, the most interesting of which was Oskar Blues G'night Amber Ale, which I had never tasted in draft form before. Brimming with a somewhat dewey contentment after purchasing our books, we sat outside and ate sandwiches with brie and apple, kielbasa and mustard. The beer was crisp and hoppy, the blade of its malt slicing through the thick fingertip of the air. Before long, employees came and brought the book carts and the outside displays indoors. They stood in the doorway of the book mill, side by side, wondering at the sky. Any minute now, any minute now.

The bathroom - wallpapered in worn, yellow missives.
Tell me about it.

The rain drove us out of the courtyard and, slowly, out of Montague. Through a veil of water we drove back, creeping back through route 2 towards the city, only headlights in the onslaught of rain. I would go back, willingly, eagerly. In case you, too, need an afternoon removed from reality, you should take a trip over to little Montague and take a long draft of the bookmilk. Here is where you can find it:

Montague Bookmill

440 Greenfield Rd, Montague, MA 01351

(413) 367-9206

Books you don't need in a place you can't find. Get not-found for a bit and visit. 

No comments: