Category: Opinion

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”

All the lonely people Where do they all come from?

*Please note that the following essay does not apply to my regular customers, or new customers who have serious questions about books, prices, etc. I enjoy conversing with my regular customers, new customers, people traveling through, etc.

There are a lot of lonely people in upstate New York, mostly men, whose loneliness seems to be self created, drowning the people nice enough to lend them an ear in a tsunami of words and whose own ears are stopped up so they never know what you are saying even if they come up for air, which they rarely do. They seek out small business owners and sole proprietors, monopolizing their time, sometimes buying something, most of the time not. Continue reading “All the lonely people Where do they all come from?”

On Selling a Revolutionary War book to the CIA

The CIA had a problem. The world’s most powerful spy agency with its own military, bigger than most militaries in the world, owed me $5.53 but couldn’t figure out how to pay me. It would take more than three years for them to solve the problem. They had toppled governments in less time.

It all began in August 2011 when the CIA’s Open Source Center ordered a $100 book from me. I shipped it to them on August 5. On August 9, it was returned to me stamped “REFUSED.” Continue reading “On Selling a Revolutionary War book to the CIA”

New York Review of Books Commits Intellectual Suicide

With Ian Buruma’s Resignation NYRB goes where it has never gone before

Daniel T. Weaver

Near the end of Katherine Anne Porter’s short novel, Noon Wine, the main character, Royal Earle Thompson, recently acquitted of murder, rides around the county attempting to justify his behavior to his neighbors. At his last stop, he says to Mr. McClellan, “Well, as I reckon you happen to know, I’ve had some strange troubles lately, and, as the feller says, it’s not the kind of trouble that happens to a man every day in the year, and there’s some things I don’t want no misunderstanding about in the neighbors’ minds, so—” Continue reading “New York Review of Books Commits Intellectual Suicide”

Dear Schenectady Gazette – Ignoring Books is Worse than Burning Them

Dear Editor:

1031180903a_HDR-1I was excited today (October 27, 2018) to receive my copy of the Official 2018 Peoples Choice Awards Best of the Best insert in my Schenectady Gazette. Thumbing through it, I found the Best Gun Shop and the Best Vape Shop. But conspicuous by its absence was THE BEST BOOKSTORE category. Continue reading “Dear Schenectady Gazette – Ignoring Books is Worse than Burning Them”

When bloody wankers ask for discounts

(This is an excerpt from Nothing Much Happens, Diary of an Upstate Bookseller, a work in progress.)

New customer from the UK in today, a verbal salad shooter, manure spreader. “Bloody” this and “bloody” that and George W. Bush is a wanker. Obama is a wanker too, and John Wayne was a bloody wanker. Most of the the time I could understand him, but sometimes I needed subtitles.

He comes to the States once a year, entering from Canada with a suitcase full of hundred dollar bills to buy vintage cars and parts to ship back to the Island to sell at a profit. His name is Ford*, but he buys and repatriates Triumphs, Austin Healys and MGs not Mustangs.

No Discount Sign

Then the dreaded question, which I’m never prepared for, “Do you give discounts?” Continue reading “When bloody wankers ask for discounts”

Caroline Fraser’s bio of Laura Ingalls Wilder is good but not great

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books, 2017) by Caroline Fraser is a good book but not a great book. There is information in the book that you either won’t find elsewhere or won’t find without having to locate numerous sources. The book is important because it is the first comprehensive biography of Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane.

Prairie FiresIn spite of the title, the book is as much about Rose as it is Laura. The title is also misleading in that much of the book has nothing to do with the prairie, prairie fires or Laura’s American dreams. And the title suggests that whatever Laura’s American dreams are, they are prairie fires, consuming whatever is in their way, but the book doesn’t show that at all. Fraser attempts to tie the book and title together in her Epilogue, but it doesn’t quite work. Continue reading “Caroline Fraser’s bio of Laura Ingalls Wilder is good but not great”