Monday, December 20, 2010


Christmas brings love and affection in the form of gifts wrapped in sparkling paper and ribbons, cards filled with meaningful sentences, feasts and delicatessens , decorations and candy canes and sometimes used books too.
This year people didn't think twice about donating a used book because people this year know that the beneficiary does not care about the fact that the book is recycled. The recession put us all in the same boat and we are all way more understanding with each other.
And once the Christmas shopping season is done, I will wrap the entire bookstore and put it under my tree. Yes, you read it correctly: the time has come for me to pack up, let the construction crew do their job and move back in the spring with a complete and extreme make over.
The Pike Place Market is undergoing a major operation of remodeling its guts, a sort of bowel wash, where pipes are being replaced, wires are being reconnected and earthquake life-saver devices are being installed into the walls.
Now it is the turn of the building in which Lamplight books is located.
Once this is over with, I will be glad to know that I will be walking every day into a safer building.
Right now ,however, my attention is completely focused on the fact that I will have to pack and move eight years worth of accumulating books of all sizes, in the time frame of about 10 days during which Christmas eve and day and New year's eve and day are happening.
The movers will move the boxes on the first day of the new year at exactly 5 am so that when the market opens all the trucks are already gone.
And this is the first year that the market decided to be open on new year's day to promote business.
My mother thinks that I misunderstood directions, and I wish she was right.
We have a rhyming saying in Italian that says something like, whatever you do on the first day of the year , you will be doing all year long: So for the year 2011 I will be waking up at ridiculously early times of the day, every day, to move boxes full of books all year long.
Happy New Year to you all, my patient readers, and may your 2011 be light,may you not have to lift too many boxes, may you wake up when you want to, may you live in safe buildings.
peace and love

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

(just between us)

this time...., and do not roll your eyes up to the mighty sky thinking: here we go ,how many excuses can this one come up with!
this time i have been neglecting this space because I got lost and busy trying new literary genres, weird books and it is absolutely not my fault.
this better stay between us and it is only to be considered a sort of "intermission post", in between posts, one to keep your attention alive and your faith ( too dramatic of a word, forgive) into the existence of this blog. (back in ma'good old days and in the old country the tv intermission consisted of roughly ten, ten!, minutes of the same lovely and bucolic tune of an harp, which functioned as background to a slide show of polaroyd images representing landscapes ,little villages and monuments of Italy, like old postcards)
Anyhow, I cannot bring myself to write much because I am literally stuck with a big book a thick one. Maybe to talk about a boys' book versus a girls' book is a sign of short-sightedness, literary sexism and so on and so forth and this would be a whole new debate in need for a post-post, not an intermission-post, but I bet you if you go out on the street and randomly interview people asking them whether they have ever read people like Louis L'Amour or Asimov, you come out with more men answering positively than women; just as if you ask them if they have ever read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights the women would count more yeses on their sides.Then ,of course you have the exceptions like Ayn Rand , Agatha Christie, Patterson or Grisham, universally ingested regardless of gender, religion,ethnicity, political party (maybe not the Ayn Rand's books ,I started noticing a pattern there). Generalizations are, by definition, outrageous but at the same time also reliable generic guidelines, and so the recurrent image in my eyes of the veteran buying Cussler or Clancy ,or the lady grabbing her purchased Nora Robert or Debbie Macomber with newly manicured and flashy square nails doesn't make the apple fall too far from the tree. However the book I am reading further shook my already wabbly theories and defied their core suppositions. The author is indubitably established and his talent widely recognized, but he seems to be flying low on the celebrity sky, not making much fuss even though he made his voice loud and clear in two genres very hard to approach as their audience is very particular about what they want to be fed (in my opinion only, this is not a fact) : Graphic Novels, once called Comics, and Sci-fi, although his books aren't sci-fi perse.
Guessed yet? (Violet, you've already won the Harry Potter contest, so zip it)
English. Ah, and a third category now that I come to think of it: young adults literature, two books, one with a female heroine (not just for girls) and one with the male hero( not just for boys).
He loves mythology....
Neil Gaiman, American Gods. A fantasy book for guys, right?
Well, I'm half way through it, I picked it up after a series of his books' appearances on the shelves of the store, and the comments made by the customers who bought them, and now I am hooked. I keep asking myself whether that is going to turn me into a female sci-fi weirdo geek ( outrageous generalizations...), and I am still suspicious over the fact that I cannot put it down ,but once the judgments and labels habits are put aside all I'm left with is a good read in my hands.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Every time I find a book written by Astrid Lindgren, the author of Pippi longstocking and many more titles, including the two mentioned by Violet, Mio of Mio and the Lionheart brothers ( I checked them out,yes, and now I have to get my hands on them!), as I was saying, every time I find one of her books, and it happens that I find them in several different languages and various editions, at a surprisingly frequent rate,they are pricy. They are rare and pricy. The early editions anyway. The scary stuff doesn't surprise me really if we think that the legacy she shares is made by authors like Grimm brothers, or Perrault ( bluebeard!)and all the rest of them, with
stories that all the major professors and psychologists, and pedagogists, and intellectuals analysed and came to the conclusion that they help us, children,to come to terms with the toughness of life. Then uncle Walt came around and did the opposite! Thank goodness the little marmaid doesn't feel the knives in her feet every time she walks with her brand new feet. Although in all fairness,had Disney only stuck to the original version, all the little girls,now full grown women would have faced the life-long pain that their favourite shoes inflict upon/below them, with much more endurance and knowledge.
My grand-ma carefully executed the same "operation safety" Disney did, when she used to tell me the synopsis of the major Operas and Operettas. So ,for example, when she would tell me the story of La Traviata, Verdi, taken from Dumas, La dame aux camelias, Violetta of course does not die and she certainly doesn't belong to any different social class, but happily marries the love of her life. Considering the fact that in practically 80% of the Operas, the heroine tragically dies and that almost all the Disney's happy endings camouflage a tragedy, I reached the conclusion that life is almost never what we remember it should have been!
And speaking of memory: two good books I came accross with that tackle the memory issue
The Sea, John Banville, where the memory of the past becomes another type of present that unfolds along in a parallel dimension, and A short history of tractors in ukrainian, Marina Lewycka, that helps me remember that learning about the past by reading fiction is fun and effective.
Gianduiotti: are you comfortable in that chair? Every time I go say hi to Davide, owner of the bookstore Therese, in Torino, Italy,I learn a lot. He is the prototype of the old bookseller, but in a young body, he has passion, he believes in the true meaning of community,he is kind,he knows what he sells, he reads a lot and he keeps it small and simple. And he his in your neighborhood!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

more of more

Before I get lost on the web looking for more information on Mio by Mio and the Lionheart Brothers I have some more good stuff to show off here:
An artist grows up in Mexico, by Leah Brenner, with illustrations by Diego Rivera ( Frida's gigantic husband). This is a collection of stories depicting mexican atmospheres during the days immediately preceding the revolution.The life of imaginary artist Rancho Pacheco and his adventures growing up.

And two cute kids book , finely illustrated: The Sooner hound , by Harvey Weiss, a tale from the american folklore .The hero is a shabby mutt that has a tornado for a mother and a bolt of lightning for a father and can run very fast!
The tiger's whisker, 31 stories from many far easter countriessuch as Korea, Myanmar, Japan and the Pacific Islands.

And since we are on a children illustrations theme i have to refer you to a great, fresh, superbly imaginative artist's work: Beatrice Alemagna, author and illustrator, one capable of making you look at a kid's book the way you used to when you were a child. A true gem. Check out her blog.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

more finds at the fair

the Gosta Berling saga, by Nobel laureate Selma Lagerlof , this edition appears to be in german. She is from the upper side of Europe, almost Lappland and her imagination and the folk resources she draws from are very Scandinavian. Although I cannot say much about this saga, besides the fact that evolves around the eccentricities of the upper class, what made me familiar with her existence was another book she wrote later, The wonderful adventures of Nils Holgerssons, a kids book she wrote as a sort of geographic text book for schools. However, when I read it, I did not detect any academic tone whatsoever and it didn't help me geographically either, but I can say with confidence it is one of the most magic and evocative pieces of young adult literature that to this day I remember with fondness and gratitude.

Birds and beasts,by William Jay Smith,with woodcuts by Jacques Hnizdovsky. The poems are cute and simple, the woodcuts I wich I had gigantic posters to put up all over the house. The artist emigrated from Bohemia to America in the 1900's and his first book named Flora Exotica is another one I would decorate schools' walls with. Here some examples

Thursday, October 7, 2010

habemus papam

There are three books by the newly elected king of literature on the shelf,
Mario Vargas Llosa, whom I'm never sure where to file under: V? L? , like Garcia Marquez, G? M?,
I wonder how long they are going to sit there for. Doris Lessing, last year's elected queen, hasn't moved once I must say, so, either people don't really follow Nobel Prizing stuff, or it is a not so popular title in the literature field as it sounds:"I won the nobel prize last year" " oh that? phiuh good luck with that".
Mrs Lessing 's reaction to the announcement of the prize by the journalist is memorable, she was coming back home from her rounds and they were waiting for her on her doorsteps and found her completely oblivious to the news.I recommend a search on youtube for it, she is pure class. I wonder how did Mr Llosa and Mr Varga respond. We'll see, maybe he shook his own hands.
In the meantime, some other kind of race happened you remember the gold digging adventures of book hunting in the jungle of the donated books set by the Seattle library?
yep, that one. I had to submit myself to the torture of looking for books without having fun again. This time around I managed to have a little fun,though cause I was in good company and left all my expectations outside the door.And this is what I found:

this is a first translated edition, 1934, by M.D. Herter Norton (what is with all these double names!) and when I found it, I made a little shrill that sounded more as if somebody had stepped on my toe rather than happiness. It was happiness, especially cause it reminded me of an exhibition I witnessed in Bologna ,Italy, during my college years, entirely dedicated to Rilke's love correspondence with Lou Andreas Salome, a Russian psychoanalyst of increadible charisma and who broke few hearts and was a very close friend of people like Freud and Nietzsche. The exchange of written words that those two,both of them married to other people, entertained is the most passionate thing I've ever read.

This little green book jumped at me because of its beautiful cover. The Mabinogion-Everyman's library- 11 Welsh stories drawn from the Celtic tradition of Medieval European literature, stories written between 1300 and 1400.

Ivan Goncharov -Oblomov , also a everyman's library edition #878, translated by Natalie Duddington,was another happy discovery that tossed me back in time again, when I went to see the theatrical representation of the book that notoriously starts the first 150 pages with the guy not getting out of his bed, and I remember wishing having a pillow there with me. I will read this classic of Russian literature, one day, without even skipping the first few pages ,because I think our times have a lot in common with the times the writer is describing: the aristocratic inertia of a decadent social class, the aristocracy, surrounded and completely oblivious of it, by the daily struggle of the rest of the world.

Friday, September 3, 2010

naughty summer

I admit it: i neither finished the terrible enfants nor approached cortazar.
instead, I dived into a guilt -free summer read , Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and I picked it up solely for the cover.I fell for it like a fly for a neon light or a wasp for sugary water in a plastic bottle( it really works, I've seen it this summer).
Bright orange background cradling a beautifully drawn profile of a woman,cartoon style, black pencil, twirls and curls everywhere.
The guilt wasn't there because, first of all it was a summer vacation and you are supposed to read caught-by-the-cover books, secondly because the story is about a young girl from Nigeria who is a refugee in England and has to deal with the fact that her status is not recognized nor legalized. The plot is not about her finding true love so that she can stay, nor that she has to solve a crime becoming a cool Nigerian detective in London, although that would make it a good one too. The other reason why I read it, is because once I turned the book to the back to read the synopsis, I only found this explanation: we won't tell you what the book is about, you have to find out for yourself. Intriguing enough for me.
The author is English, he also writes for the Guardian, and he really took his time to research the condition of the immigration centers around London. The subject is very hot over here right now,it seems, and maybe that is why the American editors felt compelled to change its original title, The other hand, into Little Bee ( the name of the main character)?
the other interesting thing is that a male writer chose not one but two female voices as the carriers of the narration, so he put himself not only into the head of a British woman, which could be considered a realistic ambition, but also into the mind of a young Nigerian girl, and as an Italian young woman I can say he did an excellent work.
good book.
after consuming that happy discovery on an airplane crossing over a continent and an ocean, I landed in Italy and felt compelled to go back to my origins and pick up a native of my home town: Baricco. You can find him translated and published here too. I read one of his earlier books entitled City, and what I find amusing is that the characters bear funny and tacky english names and the places described recognizably belong to the American landscape; at one point one of the characters, the unforgettable Miss Shatzy , writes a western that to an unwestern mind like mine seemed incomparably beautiful. This writer too did an excellent work placing his mind into foreign lands.
Crazy idea on a last note: shouldn't big,significant,classic literature be considered human heritage that belongs to the entire population of the world,like water, like health,like natural resources, nullifying therefore the petty efforts of little financial gurus to profit from it? And of course, we the people, would be more than glad to take it upon ourselves to share the costs of production?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

those enfants terribles taking final exams

now that nobody is commenting on these posts anymore, i am positive no one is in the room of this literary salon that is proceeding as slow as a snail in its development.
I can comfortably let a little fart out without feeling deadly ashamed and embarassed and I can talk to myself out loud without seeming crazy.
Therefore, out loud, I will remind myself that right now I'm reading Les enfants terribles by Jean Cocteau, beautiful, one of those reads you know it is going to stick with you, underneath your skin, forever even if,for some obscure reason, you decided that you wanted to forget about it. It is a book I wish I have read ten years ago, at least. Brother and sister share a private world from which the outer world is excluded, a world ruled by the rules of the Game.
Where did I find it? in front of my door-step, delivered by the postman right to my house all the way from Ireland, wrapped in an envelope without the sender's name nor address for a possible return in case it got lost.It could have really gotten lost badly. However I got it and I not only got the book in the envelope. The book was wrapped inside a HAND-WRITTEN letter that started with my name. How often does that happen?
Days go by at the bookstore selling books,buying books,finding and losing books, missing books, forgetting books, pricing books, cleaning books and also discovering books.
So the other day one of those books that speak to you straight from the cover, fell into my hands as randomly as a snow flake on your tongue: Final exam, by Julio Cortazar. By now I have developed the sixth sense of a bookseller which is being able to recognize the smell of a good book and so I approached reading pieces and bits here and there to see what kind of goodness I stumbled on.
Its edition is an advance uncorrected proof of New Directions Books, with an introduction by its translator,Alfred Mac Adam. Towards the end of this very informative intro, the translator tells us that,quote: the book could be considered a summary of the author's readings during the 1940s, from the forgotten detective novels of Nigel Balchin to the almost forgotten existentialist novels of Andre' Malraux. It is tempting, the translator continues, to read the novel as Cortazar's autobiography, but that is inaccurate , even though he infuses many of his literary and esthetic believes into the male characters.For example Andres ,like Cortazar himself, is dazzled by Jean Cocteau's Opium,which opens the door to surrealism.End of quote.
That day my cinese fortune cookie said: today you will believe in magic, books are like invisible bridges over infinite rivers of infinite possibilities. (cheesy as usual!)
Another read I'm going to look forward to.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

las uvas y el viento

I was reminded that I needed to read Neruda ( thank you Joe!) and what I have sitting on my shelf at home is the collection the poet wrote during his exile in Italy, early 1950's, Las uvas y el viento, and since I like games I decided to open the book with my eyes shut and read whatever poem I would blindly choose.
And this is how I came to read, La Policia:
we are
la policia
-and you? Who are you?
where do you come from, where
do you want to go?
your father? your brother in law?
whom did you sleep with in the last seven nights?
-I have slept with my love, I belong perhaps,
I belong to Poetry.
And it is so that a gondola
blacker than the others
behind me brought them to Venezia
to Bologna at night,
on the train: i am a wondering shadow
followed by shadows.
I saw in Venezia, the church tower standing
elevating among the pigeons of San Marco
its police-like triple horn.
And Paolina, naked, in the museum,
when I kissed her beautiful cold mouth
asked me: are your legal papers in order?
in Dante's house
under the ancient florentine roofs
interrogations are happening, and David
with his marble eyes,without eye-balls
forgot his father,Buonarroti,
because every day they force him to say
what he saw with his blind eyes.
however that day
when they were taking me to the Swiss border
la policia suddenly encountered,
coming toward them,
the militant poetry.
I won't forget the roman moltitude
that at the station,during the night,
seized me away from the hands
of the persecuting police.

How could I forget Guttuso's fighting gesture
and Giuliano's face
The wave of rage, the hounds' hit on the nose
how to forget Mario,
from whom, exiled, I learned how to love Italy' freedom,
and then outraged the white head
I saw confused
in the rough sea
of my friends and enemies?
I won't forget Elsa Morante's little umbrella
falling on a police's chest
like the heavy petal of blooming strenght.
And so in Italy
by the people's will
with poetry's weight,
solidarity's firmness,
the action of tenderness,
an halt was put to my destiny.
and so it happened
that this book was being born
surrounded by the sea and lemon trees,
listening in silence,
behind the police wall,
how the valorous people
fought and is fighting,
sang and is singing
winning the battle so that I could
rest in the island that was waiting for me
with a blooming jasmine branch in its mouth
and in its small hands the source of my song.

Pablo Neruda

Forgive the rough and poor translation, but I could not find one anywhere on line, so I had to do it myself.
My question is: would we still be capable of defending Poetry with such conviction these days?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

books and places

I will soon start the featuring of individual books, cause you can only talk about books in general so much before you reach the point of saturation.
However, not just yet.
There is still one reflection I would like to pester you with and it is on the relationship between books and places: the places we find them and the places we read them ( at least the ones that hold a special place in our heart).
So , if you are still sitting on those chairs and reading this, start thinking about your dear friends books and where you bought them, or borrowed them, or stole them, and where you read them.
I found the Idiot by Dostoevsky resting on a shelf in my grand-mother's house, in the country side, i believe during a spring of more than one decade ago, and read it sitting bent in two with the book sitting on my thighs and my forehead almost attached to the pages, I think I developed into a hunchback because of that book , although it was worth it.
I bought The catcher in the rye by Salinger in a Dublin bookstore and read it in a gigantic house without heat nor hot water for showers, but with the most beautiful piano that was sitting in a leaving room nobody was allowed in. I read it that winter, i remember it was cold , it rained a lot, but it was worth it as well.
I found Anna Karenina, Tolstoy, on a shelf at Lamplight Books. It was the first year the store opened. I would drop all the massive amount of work a new business requires and demands, and sat on a stool behind the counter to read it: nothing ,then, seemed more important than reading.
your turn now

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

on banning

this time I don't have a valid excuse to have been silent for so long,except for ,maybe, waiting for having something to say, and that is debatable too.
The chairs and arm-chairs must be empty by now and the fire in the fire-place out.
Oh well, I'll just put on a record, a vinyl of course, on the old gramophone, and continue the rumbling to myself.
Summer is almost here(and by here I am not referring to Seattle) and I've been buying quite a lot of quick reads for it, trying to maintain a certain level of literature and decor (at least in the title and cover). I cannot swear on the content of every single one of them and I'm sure a couple of the nasty ones slipped through the cracks, disguised as critical essays, and gained their position on the white summer stool that I strategically placed next to the entrance and that nobody has shown any interest in, so far.
I have to say that it looks like, for this summer, people have decided to go back to the good old classics. The English classics, the Russian classics, the American classics,the French classics both of the 1800's and the 1900's, you name it,they are on it.
So ,out of curiosity, i went to check my reference book about the 100 banned books, to see which ones of the classics have been banned in history and why, and from a quick and superficial look at the table of contents I realized that just about each and every book ever written has been banned at some point in time and history for whatever reason matched the metality of the time.Even the Bible and the Quran didn't escape the sad destiny or brutal disease of banning...although now that I come to think of it, banning might be just what will keep our funny species reading: tell me I am forbidden to read it and I'll go straight to it.
What I really would like to have a peek at , is the list of books that are being banned right now and we are not aware of their existence because of it, and since at it it would be nice to scroll through the list of the big editors' rejections, the ones that don't even make it past their desks....just a thought.
I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new here, but if you want to follow the apparent trend of saluting the summer by reading or re-reading a banned classic, here there are a couple of suggestions taken from the "100 banned books":
Literature suppressed on political grounds:
Orwell's 1984, of course
Macchiavelli's the prince
Literature suppressed on sexual grounds:
Rousseau's Confessions
Voltaire's Candide
Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's lover
Flaubert's Madame Bovary
Boccaccio's decameron
Faulkner's Sanctuary
Literrature suppressed on social grounds:
Twain's Huck Finn
Burgess's a clockwork orange
Whitman's Leaves of grass
Kesey's Cuckoo's nest
Plath's the bell jar
literature suppressed on religious grounds (to which i suggest you get to in the winter)
Mahfouz's children of the alley
Michel de montaigne's essays
Kazantzakis' last temptation of Christ
Giordano Bruno's on the infinite universe and worlds
Darwin's on the origin of species
Rushdie's the satanic verses
happy readings....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

gold-diggers and gamblers

i was lost into books for a while there, and i managed to free myself from them only because i found out that by ignoring them,they reality that is how long it took me to recover from the by-annual Seattle public library huge sale where all books are one dollar ,unless you go into the fenced "better books" area, which should be really re-labeled the " same books like outside,just more expensive" area. All in all it was like going into a hell designed just for book-dealers, where not only you pay money to enter hell, but you voluntarily decide to enter and suffer the pain that the flames inflict upon you. The place's hot temperature is due to the fact that the room is a sort of green-house with big windows, and on top of that you have to fight your way through a herd of people with red eyes and smoke coming out of their noses ready to horn you if you happen to be in their way. The majority of the crowd is divided into two categories: the gold-diggers who come with these little computerized machines,the scanners, which scan the books' barecode and immediately tell you whether the book is worth to sell on amazon.Usually this category consists of people who know nothing about books and possibly never read one,howevver I still haven't figured out whether they work for somebody who remains in the shadow or they do it out of their basement as second job
(this is called book-spy talk).
The second category is represented by people like me who has acquired some knowledge but is still guessing a lot, and so I buy hoping to have paid less that what the book is worth but it doesn't always happen that I'm lucky that way. The rest of the crowd consists of regular readers who come to stock on cheap but good books and students.
Since I'm not interested in gambling for fun and for work necessity I'm not good at it, I decided to let it go and just look for stuff that looked interesting or different or unusual and ultimately just fun to be surrounded by at the bookstore. And magically, as soon as I did that, one after the other the good books came to me, jumped into my lap like frogs and hit my eyes like a flash-light.
Among them ,I happened to come across a series of italian modern classics, the ones that never get to be read in highschool because by the end of the school year it is too late to pack them in after months and months of renaissance poetry and 1800's literature.The modern writers ,the ones that lived through the wars and observed the post-war re-defining era become a sort of underground culture you discover by yourself during the summer months when you can read the books you want. So during those months of hot sunny days ,yellow with light, red with tomatos on the vines, blue with the sea and green with basil ,you read about the realist writers who display inner conflicts and daily struggles with real poverty , you read about the disillusioned idealist who have to face political contradictions and failed philosophies, you read stories of places destroyed by years of despotism and two global wars that left a collective consciousness filled with disenchantment and confusion about how it could have all possibly been real. And so,like the movies made during those years, the books too unravel out of a surrealistic atmosphere as though it is all a strange dream....
here the pics
if you haven't noticed, i will mention the fact that among these finds there is a heavy absence, that one of women writers who belong to the same group as these fellows up here. I couldn't see anyone of them down there in hell and maybe that is because there aren't many women who end up in hell being immediately sanctified by the origin of their nature. One I have to mention just in case you one day happen to come across a translation and wonder whether you should read it: Elsa Morante. Anything that she wrote is a rare treasure to look at.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

the room

The literary saloon is on.
sitting on a light-green velvet arm-chair next to the tiffany lamplight we have Violet, and across the room,next to the fireplace, that fine piece of chocolate from Torino, Italy. It's a sweet start to say the least, and since it is now out of my control and whim ,you will never be able to read the body and the onion part two,nor digression B.
Let's,instead, focus for a second on the notion of writing love,versus typing it.
Granted we can indeed type love lines on a screen and send them full of warmth and the intended love, with the simple gesture of pressing the "enter" key on the keyboard, let's consider the more intricate production of picking the right type of paper and the perfect pen, the one that makes you write cool "a's" and artistic-looking "b's", think of how much thought goes down on a piece of paper, where you know words are going to stay and if you need to erase them you have to draw a line that makes them to be there even more. You have to write down the date, possibly the place, you have to consider style over the more colloquialism that e-mails tend to make acceptable, but most of all, the act of writing a word takes more seconds over typing the same word, and it is during those extra seconds, where the eyes follow the ink lines that mark the paper, that the heart expands and feels the love it describes.
As for the receiver point of view, the beneficiary of the loving words, imagine the emotion of finding a letter in the mail box, holding it in their hands before opening it, savoring the pleasure that it contains, imagine being able to smell the page thinking it was touched by the loved one hands (in case the receiver is not in love with the writer,than forget about all this non-sense!),imagine the reader smiling at the clumsy drawings and cute spelling mistakes that the computer program wasn't there for, or watching the line of words progressively sliding downwards, making the whole serenade out of symmetry, a little bit like an out of tune song, but oh so truthful.
And finally, as my far-away friend pointed out pretending he doesn't know about this blog of mine, you can go back and shuffle through old letters and re-read them and re-feel them, but do people do that with e-mails? and would that have the same effect? and I would add this: that invisible string, that tension that keeps the love birds tied together in the waiting period between the moment the letter is sent and the moment it arrives at its destination,making it through long journeys and being at the mercy of a reliable postal service, doesn't that add to the whole experience?
The best love letter I have ever written I destroyed.It was a gigantic sheet of orange paper the table was too small to hold, I wanted that to represent the vastness of my love ,it was bigger than an open newspaper,you could have made it into a kite and stain the sky with a big orange spot full of words.that's what I should have done with it.
Dear Violet I hope you underline your books with pencil only!
My dear Gianduiotti ,I know you will always hold your spoon and fork in separate hands, it has to do with being the sons of the sons of the sons of the daughters!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

digression A

I'll get to part two in a minute....but I have to throw this thought out there first.
As I was driving to the bookstore this morning and spilling coffee over my skirt again ,because there is that bump just before the Ballard bridge that I always forget about , I thought: what if the kindle is to books what a nuclear bomb is to humanity? a bit negative I know, but I couldn't help letting the teasing self of me scare the wimpy self of me, and so I started writing this sci-fi novel in my head where,since books don't exist anymore, and we all depend on a screen for our reading, we might then as well try to get rid of all the primary activities of our existence that involve the use of our hands holding an object. Therefore, so it follows, that eating with fork and spoon, or spork (spoon and fork combined, I'm not kidding, they have it at my daughter's school lunch-room, why didn't the foon version of it make it?),would be inappropriate because it is substituted by a simple gesture of ingesting a pill full of proteins and vitamins (wait a minute, don't we do that already?), and what about holding that phone in your hand when you can have it attached to your ear? (hold on, that too is already in existance)...I can't bring up the example of writing letters cause that would fall into the category of the historical novel.
What will the act of looking at a book on a screen do to the act of holding a book in your hands? will we slowly drift towards a reality where reading a real book becomes as an obsolete act as writing letters to somebody? My opinion, and opinions are only opinions, is that ,what about those love letters? there's nothing that can replace them, you cannot write a love note via e-mail, or you could, but it would take so much warmth out of the message that you might as well leave a love message on an answering machine on your way to work. So,just as well, i don't think there is anything that can replace the act of holding that book in your hands ( or one hand if it is a paperback that one decides to wreck by bending it in two and having the front and back cover kiss, and making it instantly un-re-sellable, sorry, it's the merchant in me speaking now), unless we want to become so charged-batteries dependent.
I was having only a fraction of this conversation with a customer who was agreeing with me,but had to spoil it all by adding that her sister takes a full suitcase of books on vacation with her ,so a kindle would be good: why does her sister spend money on a vacation only to read is beyond me, but I refrained from demanding clarification, maybe reading Michener's Mexico in an expensive Cabo resort makes it a better read, and that is a thick book so thank you Mr Kindle, yes! the other question would be different plugging and electricity systems in order to maintain the device alive, but I think we can end the digression here.
ah ,one last thought goes to the fathers of Mr Kindle(digression B will be about why it is Mr Kindle and not Mrs Kindle) and the atomic bomb : why Mr Oppenheim decided to be the next Prometheus could become a long dissertation, by whom the Kindle was invented is clear: it must be somebody who suffers from mysophobia, fear of germs, never bought a used book ,and thought: the hell with the damn dirty things,I want to hold a clean screen instead!

Monday, April 12, 2010

the body and the onion- part one-

the word that connects these two images is "layers", and I like to think that everything is made of layers, like the body, like an onion, and the more you dig through, the more you get closer to the core. So it is with this metaphor that I will approach the digging into the body of the bookstore.
Like the outer skin of an onion and the skin and muscles of our body, Lamplight first layer consists of bookshelves, hand made one by one by a carpenter that once described himself as the happy carpenter who builds and works with wood like Mozart worked with the notes on a sheet of music, and if you are even only a little bit familiar with Mozart's combinations of notes, you can let your imagination run wild on the potential of his home furniture.
Those bookshelves that I found myself caressing with sand-paper and then coating with another layer of some clear paste product meant to protect them,on the first few days of the store's life, are the bare skin of its body and the bearers of the muscle system : the books. Hand-picked books, one by one, the chosen ones among many, individually spotted and transported into their new home, singled out and selected to be the strong muscles that will sustain the body and make it work.
since i'm talking about layers and beginnings, i will unveil the title of the very first book that was sold on that very beginning, the one that gave me the first dollar I should have symbolically put up on the wall and still have displayed and never did:
or maybe I should let you take a couple of guesses and answer in "the body and the onion-part two". Yes, that's what I'll do. a little hint: it was july 2003, what was popular then?

Friday, April 2, 2010

lets begin

this is the very first post of what is intended to be a virtual literary salon of a bookstore too small to have one for real in its premises.
As the sole participant so far, i will take the liberty to chose the subject and shape the monologue.
There will be updates on books i recently stumbled on, books i'm reading ,books i've lost, things i find in books, and so on and so forth.
the world of books is infinitely vast and to stare at it means to sit at the edge of a cliff with your feet hanging down looking at an abyss without end, and as you are doing that, your ego falls down into that abyss and you lose it ,because no matter how much you know about it ,your knowledge still ends up being a speck of dust blown by the wind.
However, it is that wind that takes us places and makes us discover new worlds and peep into new universes, and then ,being the social animals that we are, although we do everything and anything to deny it, we inevitably come together to share those travel adventures....and in the meantime life goes on
enjoy the journey