“The Bookstore Clerk” by Mykola Dementiuk— Love in a Bookstore


Dementiuk, Mykola. The Bookstore Clerk, JMS Books, 2013.

Love in a Bookstore

Amos Lassen

Mykola Dementiuk writes of New York City in the 1960’s and I have become used to his gritty descriptions of the seedy area around Times Square so I was surprised when we moved (partially) up to Fifth Avenue to Doubleday Books. Young Billy, in his 20’a, has decided to leave his life on the streets and go to work in a better section of town. In fact, he does just fine and has actually been able to keep at his job for over a year. All was working out for him until he ran into his supervisor, Timmy, at a Times Square movie theater on a Friday afternoon and he begins wonder how Timmy will feel about him going to place this is known to many as a site to find easy sex. He did not have to wait long for an answer to that because Timmy seduced him and took him home. Billy soon finds himself in an interesting situation—Timmy wants to be his lover and have the two men live together but this could hurt his relationship with his friends in the stock room. This becomes really evident when Billy is quickly promoted to bookstore clerk. He now has to deal with the egos of readers and knowing what kind of people shop at Doubleday’s on Fifth, he suddenly finds himself in a world where he will have to work to feel at home.

Billy also has to understand that his sexuality is changing as well. He can no longer hustle at Times Square and he now has to admit to himself that he enjoys sex men not just for financial gain.

Just because we have moved uptown does not mean that Dementiuk’s grittiness is not still with us. As we read about Billy, we notice that he is happy at his job but he is still drawn to that life at Times Square where he receives instant sexual gratification. There was something about the place in all its sleaziness that drew him there. Sex is cheap with no permanency—pleasure was momentary and then on to the next guy.

His surprise at seeing his supervisor made him really understand the sleaziness of it all. Here was a man who commanded respect at work and who was now reduced to the same level as other denizens of the place. Dementiuk really capture the essence of the age and the activity. The sex is graphic and hot but more than that is the way he deals with the emotions of his characters. As always, he gives us yet another well written and sexy read.


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