Monday, November 21, 2011

Lamplight Books is greatful for...

As Thanksgiving approaches and we are all asked to consider what to be thankful for, Lamplight Books, without any hesitation is thankful for David Grossman having found his way into the store.
It was November 11th 2011, a rainy autumn afternoon, when all of a sudden but with all the humbleness and grace of a gentle soul, the Israeli writer must have popped out of two of the many books he wrote and that were resting on the shelf ( See under: Love and The book of intimate grammar ) because I certainly did not see him walking through the door.
The memory of the pleasant event ( pleasant is a conservative term ) has already modified the shape and form of the exquisite encounter, to the point that only this picture confirms the reality of it.
However what I can say without a shade of doubt is that meeting one of the greatest living authors in the bookstore that day, felt like surfing on the wave of contemporary history, our history, the one that is not on any text book yet, the one that is still shaping the human species of the second decade of the new millennium, a history that might teach us and the future generations that the intellectuals and the visionaries and the poets and the philosophers should really be given a chance , along with the lawyers and the business men and the generals and the rich , to guide us in the search for real, permanent and cooperating coexistence.
If I triggered your sixth sense, curiosity, and you decide to read some of the words that Grossman wrote and spoke in his fiction and non-fiction, you will discover a cocktail of high and refined intelligence mixed with profound humanity and delicate sensibility, you will encounter a true gentleman, a modern renaissance humanist whose existence and presence gives us Hope, which goes hand in hand with Thankfulness.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


It does not happen very often that when you go to your local butcher, you stumble into a book in a cage.
To be honest it was not exactly stumbling;
BB Ranch Butcher just opened next door to Lamplight Books and every morning, on my way to insert the keys into the doors of perception, knowledge and tales, I would see Upton Sinclair 's The Jungle, caged up on the meat counter, next to beef jerky and the pork ribs.
One does not need to have read the book to understand the intended reference, however Curiosity elbowed me between my ribs to address William the butcher on this matter and to my " nice display" he unraveled his story.
And Curiosity never fails to reward.
William is a middle aged man, in his mid fifties; he is a butcher, stout and strong, intense blue eyes that really see you when he is talking to you because he has nothing to hide, because he does not pretend.
William has never read an entire book cover to cover in his entire life, he candidly tells me, he is a street person, a people person. Until one day a friend hands him The Jungle and he reads the entire book and he weeps at times and this book became partially responsible for the way he sees and approaches his job.
He will never forget, he carries on, the image of the steam coming out of the slaughtered animals fogging the slaughtering house of a freezing Chicago in the middle of an early 1900's winter season. He will always remember the description of the workers chopping chunks of the animals' frozen blood, off of each others ankles and taking the chunks home for cooking purposes.
As The Jungle stands in front of the next customer who may or may not notice it or may or may not know it, William is cutting and serving meat that he made sure belonged to animals properly raised by local farmers and handled by workers fairly treated, because that is his belief.
Reading pieces and bits about Sinclair 's book, I did stumble on an article published in occasion of its 100 years anniversary (1906-2006) on Mother Jones Magazine. The article quotes the author's first reaction to the political effect that the book had when published, "I aimed at the public's heart and by accident I hit it in the stomach", and, Curiosity again, after the stumbling inevitably came the landing and so I landed on the comment of an erudite reader who pointed out the fact that the quote was actually being borrowed directly from Karl Marx 's Capital, in the chapter describing the report of a royal commissioner on the condition of the journeymen bakers of London. Books are like that: they are the only place where time and space do not matter.
If there ever was a meeting point between meat, poetry and philosophy I believe it can be found in William the butcher.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It is well established by now that reading this blog is the equivalent of squatting down with your ear attached to a World War One style radio, trying to tune in cracking and rebellious frequencies that cannot hold it steady for more than a minute, in the equation of the big picture.
Given that, in the equation of the big picture, the ramblings of a bibliomaniac equal to the whisper of a flower shaking the dew drops off of its petals, I can comfortably rest assured nobody went deft.
Do not let the title mislead you, this post's intent still is to describe what happens when a bookseller buys books; a bookseller is, de facto, a bibliomaniac in disguise. Buying for the bookstore is just an excuse.
There cannot be a bookseller without a book collector and if you ask any bookseller, are you a collector of books yourself? ( a gentler approach to the cruder: are you a bibliomaniac?) they will immediately lower their eyes to hide an expression full of embarassment and they will timidly reply with a sheepish yes. Their house is packed with books up to the ceiling, they have books in storage and they recently invaded their mother's basement with boxes full of the result of their obsession.
Given this context, whether the destination is their own private shelves or those overstocked bookstore shelves matters little because the bookstore is an extension of their need to collect.
The need to collect will never fade away or be replaced; there isn't such a place as "bibliomaniac anonymous" to go and get treated, and the consequences can be devastating, especially financially, but as Jeanette Winterson so perfectly puts it in her essay "the physiometry of books" I recently stumbled on and highly recommend:
it is all a matter of priorities and the way you look at it: your broken window was skillfully and hermetically sealed with plastic so that you could afford your next fix.
From a practical point of description, when out in the jungle, the book scout is a full on hunter: all the senses are in the alert mode, dueller's squeezed eyes, the hands ready to strike, their mind pushing away every unnecessary thought ( why didn't I use the bathroom before ).
From a psychological point of view, million thoughts travel through the hunter's brain's nerves at the speed of light: Hal needs " reading literature like a professor" and " In the heart of the sea", here they are, good shape, mission accomplished; I already have eight copies of "Little Bee" I'll better pass on this one; if I only found a copy of that Hunger Games series everybody want right now, for the life of me I can never find that book used anywhere; Devil in the White City, yes, Time traveller's wife, deceased ( yes, some books die), help, help, The Help, Jody Picoult, nope, Vocabulary of Chinese medical terminology....mmmyes, dear Millenium series isn't it a little too early for you to die?; oh look a beautiful hardback copy of Stendhal's travelogue to Roma, Napoli and Firenze, I am keeping this one.
And so on and so forth...