Most everyone remembers their favorite book as a child, a book with few words but vivid illustrations that transported the reader to new places and adventures. Collectors often start their collection with one of these books from their childhood but few have the opportunity to collect the original piece of art used to illustrate their favorite book. On Thursday, November 1st, PBA Galleries will offer a collection of original illustration art for children’s books.
Many West Coast contemporary illustrators of children’s books are represented in the collection with significant offerings by Jamichael Henterly (Arthur on Horseback), Elisa Kleven (The Puddle Pail), Melissa Mathis (Turtle and the Moon), Stacey Schuett (Outside the Window) and Daniel San Souci (Antelope, Bison, Cougar: A National Park Wildlife Alphabet Book). Many of the illustrations will be offered with a copy of the book where the art appears.
A highlight of the sale is an original watercolor by Daniel San Souci for Steven P. Medley’s Antelope, Bison, Cougar: A National Park Wildlife Alphabet Book. The illustration for B is for Bison, show a group of four American buffalo relaxing on the grasslands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Included is a signed and numbered limited edition of the book. The colophon is an additional page featuring the Florida panther in the Everglades National Park. Also, included is a numbered lithograph of a drawing used on the G is for Grizzly page and a separate color print of the Florida panther.
Steven P. Medley has written about Yosemite National Park many times, but Antelope, Bison, Cougar: A National Park Wildlife Alphabet Book was his first children's book. Dan San Souci has illustrated around fifty books for young readers and was the author for several of them. Both author and illustrator are ůmore
The premier annual fall gathering for bibliophiles, the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair returns to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston’s beautiful Back Bay for its 42nd year, November 16-18, 2018. Featuring the collections and rare treasures of 130 booksellers from the U.S., England, Canada, Netherlands, France, Germany, Russia, Denmark, and Argentina, the Boston Book Fair gives visitors an opportunity to see, learn about, and purchase the finest in rare and valuable books, illuminated manuscripts, autographs, graphics, maps, atlases, photographs, fine and decorative prints, and more.
Special events at this year’s Fair include documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman on the making of Ex Libris: The New York Public Library; political guru Michael Goldman on 1968: The Year of the Century; Aji Yamazaki from the Kyoto Book Artists Society in discussion with Charles Vilnis on Japanese art books; editor Peter K. Steinberg on Sylvia Plath; and the 17th annual Ticknor Society Roundtable panel discussion on starting a collection.
One of the oldest and most respected antiquarian book fairs in the country, the event offers a top selection of items available on the international literary market. Attendees will have an opportunity to inspect rare and historic museum-quality items, offered by some of the most prestigious members of the trade. Whether browsing or buying, the Fair offers something for every taste and budget — books on art, politics, travel, gastronomy, and science to sport, natural history, literature, music, and children’s books — all appealing to a range of bibliophiles and browsers.
Among the highlighted items for sale at this year’s fair will be the legendary Blue Map of China from the 19th century Qing Empire – one of the rarest, largest, and most aesthetically magnificent maps ever made; Sylvia Plath’s own proof copy of The Bell Jar; America's National Game by A.J. Spalding, published in 1911 – a classic in baseball collecting; an original handwritten manuscript by Martin Luther King Jr. for his first book, Stride Toward Freedom; a newly discovered and never published 14th century commentary on The New Testament, published in Paris around 1350; the original unpublished 1980 typescript of Luis Buñuel's last screenplay, Agón o El Canto del Cisne [Struggle or Swan Song]; a rare collection of documents evoking the climax and the dawn of decay of the mighty Medici dynasty, the most influential family of the Italian Renaissance; an elaborately illustrated 16th century gilded vellum folio from Spain of Regla y constitutiones de la cofradia del Sanctissimo sacramento de la yglesia de San Christoval de Granada;ůmore
On Thursday, October 18, Swann Galleries will offer the auction Artists & Amateurs: Photographs & Photobooks. A million-dollar lot leads the wide-ranging and high-value sale, which features historical and contemporary fine art photographers alongside standout vernacular material.
The sale is led by Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian. Complete with 20 text volumes, in original deluxe Levant binding, and corresponding portfolios, this set, #11, was among those reserved for J.P. Morgan, who later gave it to the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. It is one of the earliest editions of Curtis’s magnum opus to be offered at public auction. Curtis traveled extensively throughout the continental U.S. and Alaska and lived among Native peoples, which allowed him special access to document rituals and objects from this expansive region. In 1906 he secured a meeting with Morgan, who provided financial support for the monumental project. The North American Indian, 1907-30, is an unprecedented visual record, with thousands of beautiful images depicting the majesty of Native American culture. The set is expected to fetch between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000.
Earlier photographs documenting cultures include an album containing 200 hand-colored cartes-de-viste from Japan and China, including occupationals, military men, tattooed subjects, civic figures, criminals, aristocrats and tradeswomen, 1863-69. Artists in the album include ůmore
Swann Auction Galleries’ September 27 auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana was the highest-earning Americana auction at the house in the last six years, bringing $1.2 million with 85% of lots selling. The day opened with a bustling auction room and active bidding during the morning session of The Harold Holzer Collection of Lincolniana was followed by an equally successful afternoon session.
Top lots from the Holzer collection included a portrait of the beardless Lincoln, by John C. Wolfe, which brought in $40,000; a fourth edition of the famous “Wigwam Print,” the first stand-alone print of Lincoln, which sold for $21,250; and a commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president signed by Lincoln, 1861, which brought a record $18,750 for a printed commission signed by the president.
The Lincolniana portion of the sale set several additional records, including one for any printing of the 16th president’s famous 1860 Cooper Union address at $5,000. Winfred Porter Truesdell’s important reference work, Engraved and Lithographed Portraits of Abraham Lincoln, 1933, brought $4,000; an Andrew Johnson impeachment trial ticket sold for $2,125; and Victor D. Brenner’s 1907 plaque, which served as the model for the Lincoln penny, fetched $4,500.
The sale did not slow down during the afternoon session: the top lot of the auction was Francis W. de Winton’s diary, containing notes on pow-wows with Indians during an official tour of western Canada, which sold for ůmore
Swann Galleries will offer an auction of Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books on Tuesday, October 16, featuring notable works by and about women; a surprisingly deep number of Philippine imprints; and a collection of works on science.
Throughout the sale are a number of lots centered on women. Highlights include Giovanni Boccaccio’s De claris mulierbus, Louvain, 1487, the third edition of the first published work of female biography, containing lives of over 100 famous women from the biblical Eve to the fourteenth-century Queen Giovanna of Naples, and its first edition in Spanish, De las mujeres illustres en roma[n]ce, Zaragoza, 1494 (estimates: $15,000-25,000 and $20,000-30,000, respectively). L’Innocence de la tresillustre tres-chaste, et debonnaire Princesse, Madame Marie Royne d’Escosse, Reims, 1572, on Mary, Queen of Scots, was the Catholic response to the deposition and imprisonment of the Queen, establishing her as a loyal Catholic ruler, brought down by the plots and schemes of Protestant rebels ($800-1,200). Also available are The Female Spectator, 1775, by Eliza Haywood, which is considered the first periodical written for women by a woman, and a first edition of Constance: A Novel, 1785, by Laetitia-Matilda Hawkins, her first novel ($300-500 and $500-750, respectively).
Possibly the most unusual offerings in the sale are more than 30 seventeenth- and eighteenth-century books printed in the Philippines, and focusing on religion, history, current affairs and other subjects. The featured lot by José González Cabrera Bueno’s Navegación Especulativa, y Práctica, Manila, 1734, ($8,000-12,000). The book is the first navigation manual printed in the Philippines and one of the earliest significant scientific works to survive from the colonial period, when few technical works were published. ůmore
According to casual observation and the experience of most booksellers I know, Amazon and the internet have pretty much had their way with the antiquarian book trade – the independent and picturesque book shops of the past, that nowadays exist mainly in the mind's eye, are few and far between and in order to survive many of the remaining booksellers have become data-entry catalogers for the online giants. Nothing new here. And I believe it was at least twelve years ago when someone first mentioned to me that in his opinion antiquarian book-selling had become a rat-race to the bottom.
And then there's the crazy pricing. Most of us have observed what appear to be identical copies of the same title offered on-line for anywhere from 99¢ to $100,000. Go figure that one – there's no telling what can happen when algorithms and bots run the show. It makes one long for the old days of New York's Book Row, chronicled so memorably by Roy Meador and Marvin Mondlin back in 2003.¹
When recently published books, especially good ones, become remaindered for whatever reason there are often incredible bargains to be had. Once in a fit of temporary madness I bought a case or two of ůmore
Swann's mammoth auction of Vintage Posters on August 1 set at least six auction records, including a new high price for Sutro Baths. The text-free variant of the 1896 poster, promoting a former San Francisco landmark, brought $23,400. The exhibition for Swann Galleries’ annual summer auction overflowed the usual space, taking both exhibition floors at the house’s Flatiron district premises.
Alphonse Mucha’s Times of the Day was the top lot of the auction, selling to an institution for $40,000. Other Mucha works received significant attention from collectors: Bières de la Meuse, 1897, sold for $17,500 over an $8-12,000 presale estimate, and Salon des Cent, 1896, brought $10,000. The sale set a record price for Peter Behren’s Der Kuss, 1898, a color woodcut published by Pan magazine, at $5,000. Other Art Nouveau highlights included Marcello Dudovich’s 1908 design for the Italian department store Mele ($6,500).
The auction offered an unusually broad selection of food and drink posters, ůmore
PBA Galleries seized leadership of the Fine Writing Instruments auction market in its successful debut Fine Pens sale on July 19th in San Francisco. The 361 lot auction attracted participants from all over the globe, and over 90% of the lots sold went above their low estimates.
Montblanc Artisan Edition pens performed particularly well in the sale. A Montblanc Leonardo da Vinci 18K gold skeleton fountain pen soared past its $14,000-18,000 estimate to achieve $48,000, while a Genghis Khan 18K gold fountain pen brought $45,000 with an estimate of $14,000-18,000. A Montblanc Charlie Chaplin 18K gold skeleton fountain pen also reached $45,000 with an estimate of $20,000-25,000, and a Wassily Kandinsky "Masters of Abstract Art" 18K gold skeleton fountain pen fetched $24,000. Strong Montblanc results extended to Writers Series and Patron of Art series pens as well, with a Peter I the Great and Catherine II the Great matching-numbered pair of Patron of Art pens achieving $10,200, an Alexander the Great Patron pen reaching $4500, and a Marcel Proust Writers Series pen selling for $2160.
Vintage Montblanc rarities also found favor in the sale, with 43 of 44 vintage lots sold, many of them well above the estimate range. A Montblanc No. 12 "Goliath" reached $9000, while a Montblanc Architect's pen sold for $6000 and a No. 128 Platinum-Lined celluloid pen fetched $2700.
Other brands achieved impressive results as well, with a Montegrappa White Nights 18K gold fountain pen selling for $6600, an OMAS Gentleman Seaman 18K gold pen selling for $5400 and an OMAS Aleksandr Pushkin 18K gold pen reaching $4800. Vintage results include a Parker No. 47 eyedropper pen (known to collectors as the "Pregnant Parker"), circa 1925, which sold for $5400; a rare Pilot-Namiki red lacquer maki-e pen by Shogo, circa 1925, which reached an impressive ůmore
Collusion. ME [a.F., ad L.] 1. Secret agreement or understanding for purpose of trickery or fraud; underhand scheming or working with another; deceit, fraud, trickery… [Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1955].
So it wasn't Sheldon Cooper after all. Twelve Russians (not Marcel Lazăr Lehel) have been charged with meddling in the campaign leading up to the 2016 election by hacking into servers and publishing e-mails that, among other things, showed close cooperation between DNC officials and many of the print and television news reporters that the public used to rely on for accurate and unbiased news. Nowadays, not so much.
I suppose this could be considered serious outside interference or collusion. Does the public really need to know or does the public have the right to know about Donna Brazile's (then CNN & ABC contributor and vice chair of the DNC) e-mails of March 5, 2016 in which she supplied questions to the campaign in advance of the CNN primary debate or her e-mail of March 12, 2016 in which she says, in part, “from time to time I get the questions in advance...” and then goes on to pass along the text of a question that will be asked at the CNN town hall with Clinton and Bernie Sanders? Thanks to Wikileaks, now we know. ůmore
On June 21 the auction of Revolutionary & Presidential Americana from the Collection of William Wheeler III at Swann Galleries saw a 91% sell-through rate for important autographs, letters and documents from some of the biggest players in American history. Wheeler, a manufacturing consultant from a long line of New Englanders, devoted much of his adult life to acquiring illuminating pieces of Americana from the Revolutionary War and nearly every president. Wheeler harbored a special fascination with the life of Andrew Jackson, which led to a run of 34 significant letters and documents signed by the president, 88% of which found buyers. Highlights included a retained copy of a letter to be published by editor Thomas Eastin, providing his own account of the altercations that would lead to his killing Charles Dickinson in a duel. One of two known complete drafts, it reached $7,000. An 1833 autograph letter signed as president to his adoptive son, Andrew Jackson, Jr., a request ůmore
Same goes for any war. When Gilbert a'Beckett was writing his comic histories (England, Rome, etc.) one has to wonder what was going through his mind. In a comic history of anything, most writers and readers understand it involves a lot of selective historical amnesia, mood-altering tricks and other forms of cover-up. But passage of time softens a lot of things – we remember getting mail from Hastings (Sussex) years ago, with part of the postmark reading “Hastings – popular with tourists since 1066”. Although I could imagine a'Beckett writing that, I doubt if he would have wanted to handle the circumstances surrounding the death of Edward II (father of the great Edward III) whose general ineptitude and poor judgment, unduly influenced by his preoccupation and infatuation with Hugh Despenser (the younger), ultimately led to his execution. In those days (the early 14th century) beheading would have been considered euthanasia because drawing and quartering, a truly hideous form of capital punishment, involved being hanged, disemboweled (while still conscious) and cut into quarters. In Edward's case lethal injection was used: “... his screams as his bowels were burnt out by red-hot irons passed into his body were heard outside the prison walls...”¹ Beyond horrible by any stretch – I don't think a'Beckett would have covered it, but wonder what Hayley Geftman-Gold would have said.
By now most of you are aware of the uncharitable comments of the recently fired CBS executive who, in response to the recent Las Vegas mass murder, posted on Facebook “...I'm not even sympathetic bc [sic] country music fan often are ůmore
From dragons, unicorns, and other fabled beasts to inventive hybrid creations, artists in the Middle Ages filled the world around them with marvels of imagination. Their creations reflected a society and culture at once captivated and repelled by the idea of the monstrous. Drawing on the Morgan Library & Museum's superb medieval collection as well as loans from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders — on view beginning June 8th — examines the complex social role of monsters in medieval Europe. It brings together approximately seventy works spanning the ninth to sixteenth centuries, and ranging from illuminated manuscripts and tapestry to metalwork and ivory.
The show explores three key themes: “Terrors” demonstrates how monsters enhanced the aura of those in power, whether rulers, knights, or saints. “Aliens” reveals how marginalized groups in European societies—such as Jews, Muslims, women, the poor, and the disabled—were further alienated by being depicted as monstrous. The final section on “wonders” considers the strange beauties and frightful anomalies such as dragons, unicorns, or giants that populated the medieval world. The show runs through ůmore
Southern New England Antiquarian Booksellers (SNEAB) held its inaugural meeting of 2018 on April 2 at Historic Deerfield’s Memorial Libraries. Librarian David Bosse spoke on the history of the organization and collections, and gave members a tour of Historic Deerfield’s Henry N. Flynt Library and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Library. Lunch and business followed at New England Book Auctions in South Deerfield, and incumbent officers began new terms: Betty Ann Sharp, Bearly Read Books, Sudbury, Clerk; Eileen Corbeil, White Square Fine Books & Art, Easthampton, Treasurer; Peter L. Masi, Montague, Vice-president; Duane Stevens, Wiggins Fine Books, Shelburne Falls, President. SNEAB currently has 135 members. The 2018 directory is published and available through members, brochure racks, and their website.
On Sunday of Patriots day weekend, the Boston West Book & Ephemera Fair was held at Minuteman High School in Lexington, and on Sunday, October 14, 2018, the 14th Annual Pioneer Valley Book & Ephemera Fair will be held at Smith Vocational School, Northampton. There are also shows planned for December 8, 2018 and April 6, 2019.
Hobart Book Village
Hay-on-Wye established itself as the first book town in the world and remains the most famous thanks to the pioneering efforts and promotional talents of Richard Booth. Other rural villages have tried to emulate that model but except for Wigtown in Scotland and Hobart in New York's Catskills, few have had lasting success. ůmore
The literature of the Nakba (expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinian people, starting on or about May 15, 1948) is vast. There are many published personal narratives such as Sari Nusseibeh’s Once Upon a Country (NY, Farrar, Straus, 2007) and Karl Sabbagh’s Palestine, A Personal History (NY, Grove Press, 2007), unsparing historical accounts such as expatriate Israeli historian Ilan Pappé’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford, OneWorld, 2006), and countless books and essays focusing on various aspects of the struggle. There is even a significant sub-genre of literature relating to the “Israel Lobby” by such writers as ex-Congressman Paul Findley and more recently by academics John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Harvard).
With this as a backdrop, it’s refreshing to read a book that places the Palestinian experience within a broader context. ůmore
The Morgan Library & Museum announced today that is has received the gift of one of the foremost private collections of works by the iconic Irish author James Joyce (1882-1941). The collection was assembled by noted New York gallery owner Sean Kelly and his wife, Mary Kelly. Totaling almost 350 items, it includes many signed and inscribed first editions of Joyce’s publications, as well as important manuscripts and correspondence, photographs, posters, publishers’ promotional material, translations, and a comprehensive reference collection.
Among the many highlights are Joyce’s first stand-alone publication, the broadside The Holy Office (1904); four copies of the first edition of Ulysses (1922) on three different papers, one of which is inscribed; a fragment of the Ulysses manuscript; Joyce’s typed schematic outline of the novel; and photographs of Joyce by Man Ray and Berenice Abbott. Also of note are a selection of publishers’ prospectuses from England, America, and France, including one annotated by Sylvia Beach; one of the twenty-five published copies of Joyce’s poetry collection, Pomes Penyeach (1927), with decorations by his daughter, Lucia; an advance copy of Finnegans Wake (1939); and ůmore
NeglectedBooks.com is an interesting website that your readers might enjoy exploring. The Book Trail is like a very long wagon train, and it's easy to lose sight of the predecessors who have come before us. . . (and) expanding the Letters to the Editor column might be a way for bookdealers to strengthen their ties to the trade, swap ideas about what works/what doesn't work in a rapidly-changing marketplace, and give potential bookdealers more perspective on what they might be getting into if they pursue the profession.
Back in the days when cities had book rows, book "hounds" could ramble practically door-to-door, browsing their way through tables of books set up in front of shops. But with most of these book rows gone – victims of gentrification and skyrocketing real estate costs – a new generation of potential book collectors and bookdealers have a harder time getting a sense of the trade as a "field," with a rich past and a viable future. The shops have scattered in their flight from exorbitant rents, isolating bookdealers and weakening their sense of being members of a storied professional community.
Michael Ginsberg and Taylor Bowie have interviewed exhibitors at the ABAA shows and posted the interviews on the Net, going bookstall-to-bookstall, asking each dealer the same questions: how did you become interested in bookdealing and who are the people/shops that have influenced you? By asking them why and how they entered the field you get a strong sense of some of the major players of the past, where the profession has been, where it is today, and where it might be headed, going forward.
An afterthought about Neglected Books: it is a reality check on the history of literature. Anyone who only reads the landmark prize-winners – the best of the best – loses their context, to make comparisons and get a sense of WHY they are prizewinners. What made them superior to the also-rans of their time, and how/why did yesterday's important writer or book fall from grace?
I had the great good luck to grow up in Christopher Morley's home town on Long Island, saw the now-obscure Big Man once, and went to his sparsely-attended funeral, so became aware early on of the transitory nature of literary fame and popularity. ůmore
We've received news that several Russian nationals have been indicted for interfering in our 2016 election by using the Internet to spread made-up stories and salacious gossip in order to discredit major party presidential candidates and sow confusion among voters. Fusion GPS, apparently, bought into it, repackaged the product, and sold it to willing members of the press and other political operatives. Badly done — I don't think the United States makes a practice of meddling in the internal affairs of other nations.
Well maybe just once (Operation Ajax) back in 1953. As informed citizens and students of history, you will remember having read about the MI6 and CIA operation launched in June of that year to figure out ways to get rid of Muhammed Mosaddeq, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. The Brits thought Mosaddeq a nasty piece of work because he had the brass to push for the notion that Iran should receive a fair share of the profits from the sale of the nation's oil resources, since old contracts made years before between the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now British Petroleum) and corrupt Iranian monarchs (secured by some well-placed bribes) ensured that Iran would receive just 16% of the profits (after all operating costs). Nice work if you can manage to keep people's eyes off the ball. By comparison, American oil companies were paying Venezuela and Saudi Arabia 50%, the going rate at ůmore
Early Aeronautica, Vintage Aviation.Books, sales literature, photographs, flight manuals, log books, uniforms, pilot badges, posters, postcards, fabric aircraft insignia; both aircraft and airships, 19th –21st centuries. Online catalog, ordering and shipping; 50-years in business. (989) 835-3908
Hobart Book Village. A small, but vital book town nestled in the northern Catskill village of Hobart (NY). Five independent booksellers, an art gallery, fine restaurants and coffee shops make this a favored destination for weekenders and day-trippers. More info: (607) 538-9080 or email@example.com.
John C. Huckans Books. A small selection of rare, scarce & unusual books and pamphlets in the areas of Americana, Spanish History, Travel, Polar Regions, Middle East, English & American Literature, Latin Americana, Utopian Communities, Miscellanea. Open by appointment: (315) 655-9654.
J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians LLC. A unique selection of historical items relating to Music and Dance including autograph musical manuscripts and letters of major composers; first and early editions of printed music; rare books on music and dance; and original paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs in our specialties, 15th-21st centuries. Established 1977. Please visit our fully searchable website.
R & A Petrilla Books. Recent catalogues available for browsing in PDF format. New items in various fields are added to listings each week. To view, please visit our website.
Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts. A large stock of early books and manuscripts pertaining to Europe and the Americas. Located in The Arsenal (Bldg.4), at 2375 Bridge St., Philadelphia, PA. Open by appointment: (888) 960-7562.
Quill & Brush. A large selection of important literature and modern first editions.
Remember Peanutgate? Didn't think so, because I just made it up. At any rate, back in 2012 the grandson of a former president and one-time peanut farmer caused a bit of a ruckus by tracking down the source of a secretly recorded video of a meeting between Mitt Romney with some Florida campaign contributors in which Romney made some candid remarks about the 47% who were unlikely to support him in any case. James Carter arranged to have the 'hacked' video leaked to Mother Jones magazine and according to CNN on February 21, 2013 . . .
President Barack Obama expressed gratitude last week to former President Jimmy Carter's grandson, who had a role in leaking secretly-recorded video of Mitt Romney's infamous '47%' comments, James Carter said Thursday on CNN. . . Obama met James and his cousin, Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter, last week when the president was in Atlanta for a post-State of the Union visit. "After (Jason) got his picture taken, he told Obama that I was the one that had found the 47% tape," James Carter said on CNN's "The Situation Room." "Then Obama said, 'Hey, great, get over here.' And then he kind of half-embraced me, I want to say, put his arm around me, and we shook hands. He thanked me for my support, several times," he said. .
Nothing unusual or anything to be really embarrassed about, but network t.v. news people loved it and ran the segment gleefully and endlessly in the days leading up to the election. Even though this single hacking incident may have affected ůmore
In the late 1980s I taught at a Chicago high school in the old Wicker Park neighborhood, which was then mostly Puerto Rican, immigrant and low-income. Facing the many problems children of this background often bring to school and unwilling to burden my young wife with the day's stress when I arrived home for dinner, I frequently left school frustrated and in search of ways to calm my nerves. One day I was driving down Damen Avenue and noticed a sign on the window of an old white brick two-story apartment building that announced Red Rover Books, with an emblematic red dog underneath. Intrigued, I parked the car and walked up for a closer inspection. Through the small window on which the sign was taped I could see that it appeared to be a one-room used bookstore. ůmore
The U.S. Election of 2016 was a game-changer for all sorts of reasons. To say the populist revolt came as a surprise to party regulars across the political spectrum is an obvious understatement, but the resulting emotional meltdown by people still in shock over the shifting loyalty and unexpected response of traditional working class voters (many of whom had supported Democrats since the Great Depression of the 1930s), only shows that it pays to do your homework. People who follow this column will recall that in July of 2016 we explained some of the reasons why Trump would perform bigly¹ in the 2016 general election. What follows is some observation and analysis that may contribute towards an understanding of recent trends. Or maybe not.
Party labels are just that – labels and nothing more. People who make a living seeking and trying ůmore
One of the things I regret in my exile from Cuba is that I never got to see any of the wonderful little bookstores along Havana's twin bookseller rows of O'Reilly and Obispo Streets. As a nine-year old the experience would perhaps have been lost on me, but I would certainly recall it as the bibliophile I am today. I have a rare postcard photograph of Obispo Street as it appeared in the 1920s (see below), and in that narrow thoroughfare of glass-fronted stores I think I can make out one of these mysterious shops, though the overhanging placards – which throw large shadows over the street and give it the air of a Moorish bazaar – are unreadable in the evanescent light.
Along this street in 1940 the writer Thomas Merton hunted for books before his conversion to monasticism. In his diary he writes that he saw a secondhand bookstore and walked in, “asking not for St. John of the Cross, but for philosophy books.” There weren’t any, so he walked a little further, and the next store did have a couple of shelves of philosophy: “I had to climb a ladder to look at them. I shouldn't have been surprised to be confronted first of all by none other than Nietzche.” For the most part, he says, the shelves were full of Spanish and French nineteenth century liberals and radicals.
This would have been a treat to me, as these writers helped influence Jose Marti and his independence movement.
“The next place I went to,” Merton continues, “was Casa Belga, with its big stock of French and English books, and its specialty in pornography and little editions printed in Paris... Henry Miller, Rimbaud's A Season in Hell...and then things like the Philosophy of Nudism. The idea of a philosophy of nudism gave me a laugh somewhat in a quiet, scholarly way...”
Merton entices even while insulting my sense of Cuban identity (“I had forgotten that Cubans and other Latin Americans are suckers for all kinds of sex books” – as if we had cornered the market on pornography). He next describes a bookstore that looked like a bank and didn’t even have books on display on the counters: “Every book in the place was expensively bound and was locked in behind wired doors.”
He continues: “I had given up hunting for St. John of the Cross and was going up the street when I saw a huge place with a great big sign saying La Moderna Poesia (Modern Poetry) which rather astonished me: what a huge shiny bookstore it was. Only when I looked into the window I saw a lot of straw hats...It turns out La Moderna Poesia was a department store.”
Merton is silent after that, so we do not know whether he found St. John in La Moderna Poesia. But in 1984 I had the good fortune to find ůmore