Monday, January 31, 2011

Books and the afterlife

I know, I had promised I would tell you where the picture of the previous post came from, since it comes from a delightful book worth reading about, but, did you know that booksellers have a hard time keeping promises?
We tend to get carried away with the unfolding of unforseen events that ,like the wind on autumn leaves, stir us in all directions.
Therefore, before I keep my promise, i'll tell you another little fairy tale...
After all the books were packed and stored away, the bookseller, feeling restless in the idleness of not running the bookstore, was nonetheless hitting all her usual places for buying books, trying to restrain herself from spending too much money and forcing herself to be disciplined about what to buy in such delicate times. Of course she failed every time. It is practically an impossible mission, with the result that boxes of books are now taking over her apartment.
In the midst of all this unsuccesful self-restrain exercise, the bookseller receives a phone call from the lawer of Leslie Cameron's estate. The immediate reaction that the word lawer caused to the listener was a sudden thought: whose toes could have I possiby stepped on?
But no, Leslie passed away, and left in her will Lamplight books' contact info so that they would be the first buyers of her entire life time collection of books .
The bookseller was suddenly overcome by a cocktail of mixed feelings: sorry for the tragedy ( she in fact was another victim of breast cancer), the usual feeling of anxiety that house calls always ignite, the sense of excitement that private collections cause, to name a few.
So off she goes into the world of Leslie on First Ave. and Harbor Steps, where she meets Joni, one of the executors of the will.
Joni showes her where the books are, and it only takes her a quick glance to realize that she would spend lots of time and money going through that collection, so she took her jacket off and started digging.
After 20 minutes or so of picking, looking, pulling and piling, another feeling added itself to the pile: the strange feeling of being an interlooper or worse, an invader of a private world that was still warm with life, Leslie's bookshelves! And as all book readers know, home bookshelves don't only hold books, but a whole variety of objects that usually end up there,in that space of the shelf right in front of the books because there isn't really another place for them and because that little balcony is perfect for display: postcards, framed pictures, journals, candles,vases, jewellery boxes, souvenirs that friends brought us from their can add to the list just by looking at your own bookshelves, I bet ya!
Looking at those objects and moving them around so that she could get to the books, made her peep into Leslie's world and her taste, her fancies and her curiosities. Some objects as well as some of her books, represented future projects, others referred to projects already accomplished, others were totally compulsive buys, we all have those things laying around the house that make us think: what was I thinking!
So she turned to Joni who was organizing everything else that remained of Leslie's life, and asked her if she too had the same mixture of feelings.Joni replied that the mix was so strong she had to take pills to be able to fall asleep at night. The two immediately bonded over that and a friendship was born.
Leslie was a very interesting woman, fascinated with the world in all its forms of espression and curious like a child about it.
I enjoyed getting to know her from the after life, through her objects. She left me with an ecclectic collection of high quality books and a friend and the warm feeling that ,once again, books are magic.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

once upon a time

Once upon a time there was a little bookstore in the hugest farmers' market of the entire world.(exaggerations are a must in story telling)
That farmers' market might not be the oldest in the world but it certainly has a great story behind its carts, stalls and shops.
It all started one morning at the break of dawn, the year was 1907, the month was August, the 17th, a Saturday that year. Everybody was exited that morning, customers and farmers were about to meet face to face, skipping the middle man.
Farmers were about to hand customers their onions and potatoes directly, maybe with a little chat about the weather and the family, a hand shake and a subtotal that would make them both go home content and satisfied.
And from that day on, the market developed into the Pike Place Markets,Inc, where lots of immigrants from Europe and Asia came to sell their produce after becoming farmers in America along with the American farmers, and along with them meat sellers arrived and fish sellers, artists and performers, and of course booksellers and antiquarians joined in because if you hold bread with the right hand you must hold a book with your left one; travelers and tourists started making it a stop during their adventures... and so ,to this day, this place incessantly shouts and shamelessly yells its uniqueness and every day, if you sit on any curb at any of its corners and look for a while, you will see , passing by in front of you the whole wide world.
(the picture comes from a beautiful book that I will tell you about in the next chapter, because suspense is a must in story telling along with exaggerations)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

a fresh start, starts with empty

This is what four hands, four arms and four legs can do in four days of work.
This year's proposition is to make sure this space gets filled with great books again before spring puts greenish buds on the trees and birds build nests on those trees.
Emptiness is definitely a fresh start and all the possibilities can be explored.
It turned out that the early morning rise to move a grand total of 274 boxes of books , happened on the last day of 2010 and not on the first day of the new year as previously scheduled, and the books will be sleeping sweet dreams in a controlled heating system storage with private rooms and lockers and not in a warehouse in Sodo , as previously arranged. So not only the New Year's Eve party was saved but the books are located in a five stars hotel with room service and jacuzzi as opposed to the dorms of a hostel.
The Gods were watching over Lamplight Books that day.