Category: Libraries

Vanity Fair Beto O’Rourke & a Library Without an Aura

Vanity Fair’s puff piece on Beto O’Rourke, published nearly simultaneously with O’Rourke’s announcement that he was running for President of the United States, says more about the author of the piece than it does about O’Rourke. My interest in the piece was limited to its description of O’Rourke’s library, which author Joe Hagan described as follows:

“Behind the door, in the O’Rourke living room, a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf contains a section for rock memoirs (Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, a favorite) and a stack of LPs (the Clash, Nina Simone) but also a sizable collection of presidential biographies, including Robert Caro’s work on Lyndon B. Johnson. Arranged in historical order, the biographies suggest there’s been some reflection on the gravity of the presidency. But there’s also some political poetry to it, a sense that O’Rourke might be destined for this shelf. He has an aura.”

Obviously Hagan is not a real book lover. If he were, he would have given us a much more detailed description of O’Rourke’s library. The most impressive book mentioned is “Robert Caro’s work on Lyndon B. Johnson.” Actually, the biography is a series of books—four to date and still not complete. Caro’s biography of Johnson is one of the best biographies I have ever read. One volume, Master of the Senate, won a Pulitzer. Continue reading “Vanity Fair Beto O’Rourke & a Library Without an Aura”

Jelly Bean’s Library

Note: This is the first of a series of posts that will appear from time to time dealing with personal libraries, whether real or fictional.

In his short story, “The Jelly Bean,” which appears in the collection, Tales of the Jazz Age,  F. Scott Fitzgerald describes Jim Powell’s bedroom above Tilly’s garage, where he works part-time, in a fictional Georgia city of 40,000 people.

Tales of the Jazz Age
Cover of the First Edition. Wikimedia Commons

“It was a cheerless square of a room, punctuated with a bed and a battered table on which lay half a dozen books—Joe Miller’s Slow Train Thru Arkansas, Lucille, in an old edition very much annotated in an old fashioned hand; The Eyes of the World by Harold Bell Wright, and an ancient prayer book of the Church of England with the name Alice Powell and the date 1831 written on the fly-leaf.” Continue reading “Jelly Bean’s Library”

First library, first love or why I became a bookseller

Two gas pumps in upstate New York inhabit my memory the way two large stone lions do the residents of Manhattan. The gas pumps stood for years at the crossroads of Depot Street and Main Street in Sidney Center in Delaware County, New York, across from the Walsh Hotel and the Cheer Up Department Store. With their globular tops, and their long hoses on their sides, the pumps were like those John Updike must have been thinking of when he wrote the poem “Ex-Basketball Player” because they did look like people, like the men I often see hanging around the fronts of convenient markets sucking on coffee and cigarettes and waiting for the day to begin. Continue reading “First library, first love or why I became a bookseller”