Friday, May 31, 2013

A Bookstore Beast

Daily Dose

From Modern Humour, chosen and edited by Guy Pocock & M M. Bozman


"The Dong with the Luminous Nose, at least, is original, as the first ship and the first plough were original."

From A Defense of Nonsense, by G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Bookstore Beast

Daily Dose

From The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear, collected and introduced by Holbrook Jackson


"It is easier to find a First Folio Shakespeare than a first edition of The Book of Nonsense; even the British Museum Lbrary has to content itself with a copy of the third edition (1861)."

From the Introduction

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

By Way Of

Most people meet Edward Lear in a children's picture book, I should think.  This is not entirely as he would have wished.  He was a fine artist, after all, and earned his living from the age of fifteen by means of his pencils, pens and brushes.  Few now will ever have seen his exquisitely detailed studies of birds and beasts, let alone the giant, exotic landscape-paintings and watercolor studies from which he made his rather meager living.  Like most artists who dare contemplate the posterity of their work, he might have been shocked at the neglect of everything of his he thought important.  He would I think, nonetheless, be both delighted and astonished to find the audience for his silliness larger now than ever.  It is largely by his nonsense we now know him.  His nonsense comes in many forms; from botanical and beastly alphabets to his most familiar limericks and poems, and nearly none of it but there's a corresponding drawing, every bit the nonsensical equal of the words.  Any child might delight in his pictures even before knowing his rhymes. One is inextricable from the other, and all of it inspired.

To the adult reader of Edward Lear -- or, to this one anyway -- there really is no graver sin than the separation of his words from his pictures, unless it is the presumption of all subsequent and invariably inferior illustrators and the bowdlerizing fussbudgets who would replace or alter his pictures to "improve" them.  (To contemplate, for example the vulgar, mewling, milquetoast kitties made to illustrate his already masterfully illustrated poem, "The Owl and the Pussycat", is to despair of the taste and sense of all modern publishers everywhere.  I can't even think of the edition of his limericks I saw once with his drawings "refined" without feeling the want of a match.)

 Most people getting better acquainted with Mr. Lear in the past half century or better, have probably done so with one edition or another of, The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear, "collected and introduced by" the delightful Holbrook Jackson.  Dover Publications has not, to my knowledge, let this wonderful book go out of print since they first published the paperback in the United States in 1951.  There have been many collections of Edward Lear's nonsense, before and since, and I own not a few, but this may well still be my favorite.  (I do prefer the original Dover cover to the less thoughtfully designed version on the present edition, but the interior is blessedly unchanged.)

Holbrook Jackson, for them what don't know, was the last of the jolly English socialists.  True, Wells & Shaw were much more important literary and political figures, and continue far more famous.  George Bernard Shaw, Jackson's senior by a generation -- and the subject of more than one of Jackson's own books -- even outlived him by a couple of years.  Holbrook Jackson, if encountered at all in a bookstore nowadays, even a used bookstore, is likely to be found only in his still excellent introduction to his anthology of Edward Lear.  This is both a wonder and a shame; first, because there are very few journalists, critics or essayists of Jackson's generation with anything still in print, and fewer still are there writers from the most productive and expansive generation of the Progressive Era, and finally because Holbrook Jackson may well have been the last funny English socialist.  (Just in case the thought crosses any one else's mind, I can't at this moment think of a single American socialist, of Jackson's time to ours, with so much as a sense of humor.  Emma Goldman?  Still, a bit of a stretch.  Anyway, nobody ever said Eugene V. Debs was a riot and meant funny.)  The modern Labour Party has produced more than one MP, like Michael Foot, capable of wit, at least on the page, and even an PM in Roy Jenkins who might justly be called a charming, and very good writer, but the list of still readable English socialists and genuinely amusing former members of the Fabian Society tapers off to naught, I should think, after the end of the Second World War.

Had he turned away entirely from socialism and the artistic bohemianism that defined his earliest efforts as a writer and editor of progressive magazines, as more than one writer of his time and after certainly did, Jackson might be better remembered, if less admirable.  No-one ever loved an apostate of the Left like the English-speaking Right.  Conversely, had he been a good Party man, for a time at least he might have survived in some damp socialist reading room or as a text to teach  comrades to parse popular English for the coming Socialist triumph over the decadent West.  Instead, Jackson beavered away on one doomed, leftist publication after another, producing a substantial shelf of clever criticism, thoroughly enjoyable essays and books, and ultimately, sadly now, a few healthy pages of otherwise unattributed Internet quotes.  To wit:

"Man is a dog's idea of what God should be."

"The poor are the only consistent altruists; they sell all they have and give it to the rich."

Oh, and this one book, not his own.

Reading my way through all sorts in preparation for the upcoming reading of Edward Lear's nonsense and letters, etc., at the bookstore, I find that even with those passages of mid-century psychology and rather Edwardian naivete regarding Lear's lifelong bachelorhood and romantic, if one-sided male friendships, I can think of no better, more concise introduction to Lear's life and magic, than Holbrook Jackson's.  In just shy of twenty pages, the reader can learn pretty much whatever's necessary to have a proper appreciation of Lear's life, which can only add to the adult pleasure of rediscovering Lear's nonsense.  Pretty good, that.

Imagine any other writer of the true Left, nearly seventy years ago or since, producing such a volume of so completely apolitical, and runcible a figure as Edward Lear!  Try not to think, however briefly of the hideous contortions necessary to make the nonsense of Lear an acceptable subject for proper Marxist critical theory.  Picture Slovoj Zizek on "The Dong with a Luminous Nose".  Terry Eagleton might be entertaining for the first hour or two, discussing "The Broom, the Shovel, the Poker and the Tongs", but not in a way that would encourage the reader to go on.  (No need to look all that far for what such seriousness might look like, as the far trickier and hence more intellectually complicated nonsense of Lewis Carroll has indeed suffered just such analysis here and there, from all sorts of humorless boobies.)

The English Tory has always allowed for intellectual eccentricities and enthusiasms outside politics -- at least before the triumph of Thatcher primitivism -- and so there is actually a fairly rich literature of otherwise upright, right-thinking, Anglican moralists from Swift to Waugh, cutting literary capers and snapping jokes, and even the likes of "Uncle" Harold Wilson going all giggly at some Mitfordism, or while mixing at the Drones Club.  On the Left, among the English, and likewise for the all too brief and anomalous occasions when America has allowed for even the suggestion of socialism as a legitimate, if insignificant political force, there is no such aristocratic allowance for riding the hobbyhorse in one's off hours.  (The nearest I think we've come to being purposefully silly on the left in the US, has to have been the anarchic political stand-up of the early Sixties, and even that was a way for Lenny Bruce to financially support his wife and mother.)

Here we have Holbrook Jackson, admittedly more of the William Morris than the Marxist/Leninist branch of the movement, but nevertheless a believer, yet this same man wrote books on bibliomania, letter-press and typography, and yes, even "compiled and introduced" The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear.

We may not see his like again.

Daily Dose

From The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear, collected and introduced by Holbrook Jackson


"He has also numerous aversions, such as noises, crowds, hustle, gaiety, fools and bores, which are doubtless veletudinarian."

From the Introduction, 9

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History, by Stephen Jay Gould


"Our mythology venerates the lone genius, but most great innovations arise several times, often in virtual simultaneity (the calculus by Newton and Leibniz, natural selection by Darwin and Wallace)."

From Chapter 7, Sweetness and Light

Monday, May 27, 2013

Unique Bookstore Problems #209

Daily Dose

From Miracle Fair: Selected Poems, by Wislawa Szymborska, translated by Joanna Trzeciak


"Whoever insists that it is omnipotent
is himself proof
that omnipotent it's not."

From On Death, without Exaggeration

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Unique Bookstore Problems #611

Daily Dose

From The Lost Beauties of the English Language, by Charles Mackay


"Other languages are dainty in the materials of their increment; but English is, like man himself, omnivorous.  Nothing comes amiss to the hungry palate."

From The Introduction

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Unique (Used) Bookstore Problems #11

Daily Dose

From The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear, collected and introduced by Holbrook Jackson


"Much as he loved quietness. inwardly and outwardly, he could not be still."

From The Introduction: Edward Lear: Laureate of Nonsense, 4

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The History of England, by David Hume

"It is difficult for a man to speak long of himself without vanity; therefore I shall be short."

From The Life of David Hume, Esq., Written by Himself

Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Improvisation

There was a time, fifteen years ago or more, when the aesthetic in bookstores, even independent bookstores all went kinda corporate.  (This will be a history lesson to the young peoples.)  The chains were still the biggest, and baddest players in the market back then, and the Internet Bezoshemoth had yet to swallow the earth.  Everyone was trying to compete with the slick professionalism of B&N and Borders -- remember Borders? -- and one way seemingly to do so was to update the look of everything.  "Branding" and "re-branding" were the buzz words.  What that translated into, at least for the big shops that could afford it, was a fairly substantial capital outlay on consultants, a few new computers with fancier software, and new signage when and wherever possible.

In a lot of ways, this proved to be a very good thing.  What went probably was looking pretty shabby by then and what came in to replace it was a level of design, accessibility and utility that actually made bookstores work better as well as look better.  What was lost, besides a certain amount of clutter and dust, was a little of the individuality, and yes, eccentricity of some of the books-landscape.  Bookstores that hadn't updated their widow displays or reconfigured their cash registers since the Carter administration, found themselves looking all shiny new and Clintonian.

That kind of investment doesn't come cheap.  The last thing anybody wants after spending serious money on a face-lift is to see somebody dress it back up in the same ol' rags and do.  Pens tend to be kept, for awhile anyway, in the nice new mesh-metal-containers, scratch-paper in the matching mesh-metal-boxes.  Nobody puts Post-its on the new big computer-screens.  Unused book-stands briefly go back, stacked by size, under the appropriate tables.  Signage suddenly has a uniform font, style, sizes etc. and consistency -- for the briefest blink of the eye -- is everywhere to be seen.

Some people, some booksellers hate this sort of thing.  Not me.  I like the smell of a new car as much as the next fellow, and there is something about showing off the new wheels before they wobble that I totally get.  (And that's as near to an automotive metaphor as you're ever likely to get from me.)  There are negatives from the get-go, but why not enjoy the pure newness of things at least while they still look new?

But we all know why we can't keep nice things, don't we?  Time.  Yesterday's innovation tends inexorably to the entropy of disordered library tables and mismatched chairs, stained carpets, busted Poly(methyl methacrylate) -- science! -- and the inevitable return of framed family photos and potted jade-plants.  Sooner or later there will have to be some compromise with not just wear and tear, but the occupation of the space by actual, expressive humans.  However hard the powers-that-happen-to-be try to enforce  a rigid aesthetic conformity, people will break out.

(Two brief examples I will always treasure: 1) a photograph I wish I could now find online of a then East German lady hanging socks and drawers to dry on her Teutonic, Bauhaus balcony, and 2) a computer terminal at a local Barnes &  Noble I saw not long ago, the back encrusted with unicorn stickers.  Fight the Power!)

One thing that was lost in the movement to make everything clean and professional, immediacy.  Selling books isn't always the leisurely business of exchanging favorite titles with trusted customer, is it? Sometimes, ya gotta grab the people.  Thus the necessity of keeping current with news, reviews and the holiday schedule and being able to throw a time-sensitive display together on short notice.  When display materials and signage become the stuff of plotted campaigns and unified, long-term messages, it can be hard, for example, to mark the passage of a great writer, or remember that Fathers Day follows Mothers Day as night follows day.

So a coworker makes a handsome display, a witty selection of titles meant to communicate the changing nature of masculine interests and then we find we ain't got a sign.  We could request one of those lovely, professionally produced pieces from Promotions, but frankly, their plate is rather full just now and there are bigger fish to fry and so on, so...

I actually love making home-made signs.  I like home-made signs in bookstores.  Such signs and displays suggest a level of direct engagement of booksellers with our customers that reminds us all of the actual business we are in.  Just doesn't happen much anymore.  There are people for this sort of thing; paid professionals, with computers and standard fonts and all that.  Still, I've been asked.

What I like best about this kind of improvisation is putting as much into the message as possible in the time and space allotted, which ain't much.  Fathers Day makes me think of my own Dad, and of the TV dads of my generation.  Doesn't take me long to start humming the theme to My Three Sons in my head and so to the Internet for a reminder of the opening animation.

Now if the reader is too young to remember this old show, that's okay.  I haven't watched it in years.  What it was is less important in this context than making direct reference to the presumably happy if vague memories of people at least old enough to remember the reruns.  The next step is to do something different.

You can't see everything in the display in the photo below, but besides the usual beer and BBQ titles, there are books that address everything from running to The Enlightenment on these tables.  Seems Daddy has moved on, a little.  We live in faster times.  And so, my modification of the opening credits animation of a TV classic.  The son on the right is, clearly out of order.  The son on the left, in case you can't read it in the photo, says:

"Oh, Damn, Dude!  Seriously?"

Don't know if anyone ever actually said "damn to Fred MacMurray, certainly not that I remember.

The joke then plays out as best it can and the sign does until it's either replaced or no longer needed.  Made us all smile, anyway.  And it serves a greater purpose too, I think; reminding the customers and the staff that not everything in an Independent Bookstore needs to be quite so impersonally, blandly professional as what one would see in a chain store.

How's that branding working out for you, Borders?

Daily Dose

From The Sayings of Dorothy Parker, edited by S. T. Brownlow


"Attending a party with Somerset Maugham at which guests were asked to complete nursery rhymes:

Somerset Maugham: 'Higgledy piggledy, my white hen
 She lays eggs for gentlemen.'

Dorothy Parker: 'You cannot persuade her with gun or lariat
To come across for the proletariat.'"

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Beasts

Daily Dose

From Dorothy Parker In Her Own Words, edited by Barry Day


"The writer's way is rough and lonely, and who would choose it while there are vacancies in more gracious professions, like cleaning out ferry boats?"

From an introduction to an essay collection by S. J. Perelman

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Beast

Daily Dose

From Thomas Carlyle: A History of His Life in London, 1834 - 1881, by James Anthony Froude


"The old man has a fine shrewdness and naturalness in his expression of face, a long Cumberland figure; one finds also a kind of sincerity in his speech.  But for prolixity, thinness, endless dilution, it excels all the other speech I had heard from mortals.  A genuine man, which is much, but also essentially a small genuine man."

From a journal entry quoted in Book One, Chapter One

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From Tono-Bungay, by H. G. Wells


"I became an inordinate cigar smoker; it gave me moods of profound depression, but I treated these usually by the homeopathic method, -- by lighting another cigar."

From Book 3, Chapter 3, Soaring

Sunday, May 19, 2013

In Memoriam

A few years ago I spoke at a friend's memorial service.  She was a coworker, a remarkable little woman, full of dark humor and fellow-feeling, a friend.  She was a spitfire named Jennifer Kuhn, and we all loved her.  I miss her still.  She had asked me to speak at her memorial and so I did, as did many others.  (She would have been glad, I like to think, to have seen such a crowd.)

After her memorial, our boss, the CEO of the company, a young man, then in rude good health, joking or not, asked me the same thing. "You have to promise to do that for me," he said, "if I die I want you to do the eulogy."  Other people said similar things to me that day.  Having lived in San Francisco in the Eighties, I have some experience of speaking at funerals.  It isn't something about which to brag, but people are kind, and one wants to say something after, I know.  I may have said it to someone myself.

When Bryan Pearce said it to me, I'm pretty sure it was a joke, or if it was sincere, I don't expect he would have remembered saying it, or thought much of saying it after.  As I've said, our boss was still a young man, and when he died recently, after an impossibly difficult illness that lasted nearly a year to the day from his original cancer diagnosis, it was not only a blow to us all, and a shock, but also frankly difficult to accept.  Death leaves a kind of chaos in it's wake, always.

I've just been to Bryan's memorial service.  He was an important figure in our industry.  His service was well attended.  A number of people spoke; colleagues with whom he worked closely, personal friends, and most movingly his wife and daughters.

I'm glad I went.  I did not know the man as they did, obviously.  I had some sense of who he was beyond our roles as employer and employee, though that had more to do with his friendly and generous nature than with any presumption on my part.  Bryan would have everyone a friend.

It is perhaps presumptuous of me now to say anything more in his memory.  I've already written something here to mark his passing.  Still, today I remember the promise I made him years ago and joking or not, I've kept it.

It wasn't my place to say anything at his service.  So I'll just say it here, that these few words might have some small comfort to those of us who miss him.  I can't think what else to do.

A poet* said, "I remember from your life," and that's right, it seems to me, that's just how it happens.  When someone dies, but even before that happens, we can never have the whole life of another person.  When someone dies, that is what we lose.  Some of us will have had more of him than others; those that knew him best, that loved him and were loved by him, they will have the most, and that's right, that that should be so.  The people he loved best, the woman he loved, the children they made, they will remember him best, they will have memories we won't.  They will need more.  They've lost more.

Those of us who worked most closely with him, those with whom he worked every day and for years, they will remember differently, but still, they will remember too.  They will remember what he did, all he tried to do, and why, and why it matters, still.  

The rest of us will remember from his life just as much as is ours; what we learned from his example, what he gave and taught us, what we owe him, the man he was when he was with us, all too briefly.

Even in the aggregate, our memories from his life, can not be what it means to be alive, to have him still here, with us, and that is why his loss is felt so, and will be.   That is what we mourn, what we can not have again.

Another poet, a very different poet, said:

Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

That is why we come here today, seeking that "kind relief."  That is what the memories we have from his life, the memories we each have, large and small, together, we offer one another now.  It is what we do.  It is all we can do for one another now, just now.  William Blake, a great poet, wrote the lines I just read.  In that same poem, called "On Another's Sorrow," he also says:

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share?

My share is small, but it is mine.  My memories: of Bryan smiling in the morning from across the bookstore's lobby, of Bryan laughing at something I said to make him laugh when perhaps he ought not to have, my memories of his many kindnesses, his enthusiasm, his integrity, his decency, his sense, his example, these are mine.  That is my loss; my kind boss, the boss who danced with me, and laughed, and did good.  That is "my sorrow's share".  
It is, as I've said, a small thing.  I offer it today to those for whom this loss is irreparable.  Not that it can mean so much to them, as it does to me, but that, with all the others gathered here today, we may remember, together, as much as we can, today, so that we may remember today -- our losses, and his gifts -- as long as we live.

He was a good man.  Remember that.  It matters.  It matters more than he knew.  What he did, the good he did, matters.  That he was good, that he was a good man, that matters more.  Remember that even I, who only worked for him, someone who never knew him as you did, someone who by all rights he should not have liked, but weirdly, miraculously, eventually he did, remember that even I knew that.  He was a good man.  There are too few.  

That is what I will remember from him.  He was a good man.  I will miss him.

*Owen Dodson, "Poems for My Brother Kenneth"

Daily Dose

From Sonnets, by William Shakespeare


No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell;
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then you should make you woe.
O if (I say) you look upon this verse,
When I, perhaps, compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
But let your love even with my life decay;
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Waves Return

Here then an example -- as if another was needed -- of how dangerous it is for a bibliophile to work in a bookstore.  The Bargain Books selection at the store where I work is full of snares.  For me, the walk across the bookstore's lobby can be harrowing.  I try, every day, to never let my eyes so much as glance at the recent arrivals of remainders, as I pass back and forth to the Cafe for diet sodas.  Most days I manage.

Just the other night, at a beloved coworker's farewell party and so already a somewhat gloomy occasion for me -- if a happy one for him -- a few of us of a similar age had a conversation on the sad topic of the unwanted libraries we will likely leave behind us when we go.  By "go" I mean "die."  We are all what one might call "lifers" at the bookstore.  We are all of us settled into middle age.  The day is coming when we must begin to simplify our lives before old age and illness, our own and or our partners, will necessitate divesting our lives of moveables.  We're booksellers.  Guess what constitutes the little we own?   The rising generations in all our families are unlikely to want what we got.  In my case at least, the likelihood that anyone would want the books I've been collecting for decades is slim to none.  Three distinct editions of Walter Savage Landor's Imaginary Conversations?  Okay, folks, who wants 'em?  What am I bid?  You see the problem.

In the past couple of years I have actually been making some effort to sort, sell and or donate a substantial number of my books, in anticipation of just the kind of conversation described above.  In addition to the growing motivation of my own slowly advancing mortality (one hopes,) there is also the unwelcome realization that there are by now in my private library whole categories of thing I no longer read, am unlikely to ever read again, and can't imagine my executors or the trash-man being much excited to find. 

Popular science took the biggest hit, followed by modern poetry, history and biography.  Fiction presents a special problem.  What I haven't read of this or that favorite author, I may yet.  What I liked best I may want to read again, mayn't I?  Modern Firsts and all that nonsense has never meant much to me.  The little it did, my time buying and selling used books has dispelled.  Likewise, to a considerable extent, signed copies.  The truth is, someone other than me would need to be found who wants to read the complete and collected works of the now late, and personally regretted Louis Auchincloss for any of my copies of his "firsts" to be valuable hereafter.  Alas.  Will I ever read another of his novels?  Even the ones I haven't yet read?  Even my favorites among the ones I have?  Ah, the fleeting of fame, etc.  It is to sigh.

But our remainder-buyers are a Mephistophelian crew.  Just when I've been congratulating myself, however prematurely, for my new-found thrift and discrimination, I am confronted yet again by the kind of attractive, all-too-reasonably-priced, clean and well designed little hardcover classics that may well yet be the death of me.  I'll write another of these about the books that got me this time, but just here I would mention three books I neither need nor want, but want, and worry I might need... hereafter.

 It's faintly ridiculous, even to me, that I should think of buying books by Virgina Woolf.  I own nice editions of all the essays, the letters and the diaries.  In these I have been reading, with great pleasure and some benefit for a long time.  Her novels, however, have always been and are likely to always be well beyond me, or at least my patience.  As I recently remarked to a young friend interested in reading same, her stream of consciousness, fuliginous and thin, has always seemed to me to have too few fish in it.

It's startling to think how many people I specially respect love Woolf's fiction.  It is even more so that I've only ever managed one novel, Orlando,and that when I was young and might read anything through.  To the LighthouseThe WavesMrs. Dalloway?  I've tried them all, that last more than once, more than thrice, come to that.  (When dishy Michael Cunningham wrote his very good book, The Hours, in which you'll remember that novel features muchly, I tried very hard indeed, ashamed never to have finished it.  I think I skipped ahead to the end, but beyond that?  I can't really claim to have read Woolf's novel, not really.)

Perhaps I will some day be mature enough, and quiet enough, not to find the novels, as opposed to nearly everything else the old girl ever wrote, dull.   Of Virginia Woolf there is nearly no end, so I don't feel I haven't done her some justice.  Hell, I've even read her husband and her girlfriend and her nephew and her dad, among her family, to say nothing of her wider acquaintance!

So why then be tempted by these British, hardcover Penguin Classics reissues?  Well, look at them!  Aren't they pretty?!  The design is elegant, there are interesting new introductions, and there they now sit on the Bargain table, at only $7.98 before tax and discount!

A Room with a View, her brilliant long feminist essay, (seems wrong to call it, "seminal,") I have read.  I don't know that I have it in my library anymore.  I took it to lunch yesterday and was frankly spellbound again by her astonishing rhetorical performance.  I'm not such a student of these things to be bothered much by the current analysis that seems to fault her for her snobbish assumptions about class and culture, etc.  Points well made, I'm sure.  Surely though by now, nearly a century after its original publication, the book may be read as literature and history -- at least by a common reader such as meself?  This one I will get, if only just to read in it again, as I've been talking about anyway.

But the two novels?  My collector's sense for"sets" makes my fingers twitch to scoop up all three books today.  Let's just see if I can resist, shall we?

And if I die tomorrow, maybe the junkman will think better of me for owning this unread copy of The Waves.  Even in death, I should think, one hopes to make a good impression.

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From The History of Mr. Polly, by H. G. Wells


"He had a dreadful night.  It was like the end of the annual holiday, only infinitely worse.  It was like the arrived prisoner's backward glance at the trees and heather through the prison gates.  He had to go back in harness, and he was as fitted to go in harness as the ordinary domestic cat."

From Chapter 6, Miriam

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From Ann Veronica, by H. G. Wells


"But she did not listen long; she wanted to talk."

From Chapter 7, Ideals and Reality

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From Good Company: A Rally of Men, by E. V. Lucas


"He departed with reluctance, grumbling as we walked homewards at the scanty store of bacon, lately condemned as gross and abominable.  The dainty rustic food made a strong impression upon his lively fancy, for when we arrived the first words he uttered were, 'We have been eating bacon together on Hounslow Heath, and do you know it was very nice.  Cannot we have bacon here, Mary?'

'Yes, you can, if you please; but not to-night.  Here is your tea; take that!'

'I had rather have some more bacon!' sighed the Poet."

From T. J. Hogg

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From Religion and Science, by Bertrand Russell


"From evolution, so far as our present knowledge shows, no ultimately optimistic philosophy can be validly inferred."

From Chapter Three, Evolution

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From Unfamiliar Fishes, by Sarah Vowell


"But I can no longer read any faith's Napoleonic saber rattling without picturing smoking rubble on cable news.  I guess if I had to pick a spiritual figurehead to possess the deed to the entirety of Earth, I'd go for Buddha, but only because he wouldn't want it."

From pg 45

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From Selected Essays, by Michel de Montaigne,translated by Donald Frame


"If a man could dine off the steam of a roast, wouldn't that be a fine saving?"

From On Principle

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From Coriolanus, by William Shakespeare


"Bolder, though not so subtle."

From Act I, Scene 10

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe


"Whilst I am here on earth let me be cloyed
With all the things that delight the heart of man."

From {3.1} Enter Faustus and Mephostophilis

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler


"The exact moment in which, in spite of his resolutions, he had slid into the day-dream was as impossible to establish afterwards as the moment in which one falls asleep."

From The Second Hearing, 3