A celebration of the independent bookstore by 84 authors who consider them personally and culturally indispensable and who find the ones they favor thriving and vital, despite common impressions to the contrary.
Early on, it might seem that too many of these short pieces are repetitive, praising the stores that have hosted and nurtured them as “home,” as the “soul of the community” and other phrases that suggest a bygone era in these days of discount mega-stores and cybershopping. Yet the cumulative impact of this handsomely published anthology is not that of a series of survival stories, holdouts against the tidal wave of technology, but of a literary community that continues to flourish and needs these havens of revelation and sharing. The contributors write of being introduced to the work of other included authors by savvy booksellers and forging lifelong friendships. At least two different authors fell in love and ultimately married because of their interactions at an indie bookstore. Two of the more famous novelists (Louise Erdrich and Ann Patchett) own bookstores but write of someone else’s as “their” store. (And someone else in turn writes of Patchett’s.) Many tell of never leaving an indie bookstore without purchasing something, and most write of discoveries they have found there and/or the thrill of their first reading there. Dave Eggers strikes a characteristic chord: “Maybe it’s the feeling that if a bookshop is as unorthodox and strange as books are, as writers are, as language is, it will all seem right and good and you will buy things there. And if you do, it will persist, and small publishers will persist, and actual books will persist. Anyone who wants anything less is a fool.” Some of the other contributors include Rick Atkinson, Wendell Berry, Ian Frazier, John Grisham, Pico Iyer, Ron Rash, Tom Robbins, Terry Tempest Williams and Simon Winchester.
Everyone who really loves books loves bookstores, and anyone who loves bookstores will appreciate this labor of love.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)