In 1980s Arkansas, one concern trumped all others: Satan. He whispered backwards on our rock albums. He possessed otherwise good people’s bodies and brought them to sin. His worshippers — it was honestly believed and confidently proclaimed — lived among us.
So when my stepmother opened our town’s first bookstore I was amazed by one book in particular: an infernal red and black volume called The Satanic Verses.
As was common with my stepmother’s many schemes, business and otherwise, I was quickly dragged in for cheap labor. I was informed I’d be working Saturdays, mostly by myself. In this case, I didn’t really mind. The bookstore appealed to my sense of the greater good — as well as my intellectual vanity.