Monday, February 29, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer, selected and translated by T. Bailey Saunders


"Certain it is that work, worry, labor and trouble, form the lot of almost all men their whole lives long.  But if all wishes were fulfilled as soon as they arose, how would men occupy their lives? what would they do with their time?"

From On the Sufferings of the World

Sunday, February 28, 2016

When Oats Were Reaped

Daily Dose

From The Book of Snobs, by William Makepeace Thackeray


"I asked this great creature in what other branches of education she instructed her pupils? 'The modern languages,' says she modestly: 'French, German, Spanish, and Italian, Latin and the rudiments of Greek if desired. English of course; the practice of Elocution, Geography, and Astronomy, and the Use of the Globes, Algebra (but only as far as quadratic equations); for a poor ignorant female, you know, Mr. Snob, cannot be expected to know everything."

From Chapter XXVI, On Some Country Snobs

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Rewards and Fairies, by Rudyard Kipling


"To the Heavens above us
Oh, look and behold
The planets that love us
All harnessed in gold!"

From A Doctor of Medicine, An Astrologer's Song1

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Mower by Philip Larkin

Daily Dose

From The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, by Tobias Smollett


"Truth is, I look upon both candidates in the same light; and should think myself a traitor to the constitution of my country, if I voted for either. If every elector would bring the same consideration home to his conscience, we should not have such reason to exclaim against the venality of p____ts.  But we are all a pack of venal and corrupted rascals; so lost to all sense of honesty, and all tenderness of character, that, in a little time, I am fully persuaded, nothing will be infamous but virtue and public-spirit.”

From Page 817

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Breakfast at the Bookstore with Brad and Nick #67

Daily Dose

From The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, by Tobias Smollett


“There is another point, which I would much rather see determined; whether the world was always as contemptible, as it appears to me at present?—If the morals of mankind have not contracted an extraordinary degree of depravity, within these thirty years, then must I be infected with the common vice of old men, difficilis, querulus, laudator temporis acti; or, which is more probable, the impetuous pursuits and avocations of youth have formerly hindered me from observing those rotten parts of human nature, which now appear so offensively to my observation.”

From Page 503

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Aftermath by Emily Hickey

Daily Dose

From A History of Reading, by Alberto Manguel


"And yet no curses seem to deter those readers who, like crazed lovers, are determined to make a certain book theirs."

From Stealing Books

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Twilight After Haying

Daily Dose

From Frederick the Great, by Nancy Mitford


"Frederick wrote to the Duchess of Saxe-Gotha: 'I have lost all my friends and old acquaintances -- philosophy can't cure that.'"

From Chapter 18, The Great Frederick

Monday, February 22, 2016

Hay by Ted Hughes

Daily Dose

From The Plague, by Albert Camus, translated by Stuart Gilbert


"Now, at least, the position was clear; this calamity was everybody's business."

From Part Three

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From 1984, by George Orwell


"In so far as he had time to remember it, he was not troubled by the fact that every word he murmured into the speak-write, every stroke of his ink pencil, was a deliberate lie."

From Chapter IX

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From How It All Began, by Penelope Lively


"One thing throws up another -- that's the charm of it."

From Chapter Six

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Caricature (of?)

Daily Dose

From Master of Ceremonies: A Memoir, by Joel Grey


“I had never been to the theater, and as soon as I got there I knew I was someplace.”

From Chapter Two

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Breakfast at the Bookstore with Brad and Nick #66

Daily Dose

From Words Fail Me, by Patricia T. O'Conner


"Doubling, tripling, and quadrupling are all clear enough: a number is multiplied by two, by three, by four.  But tossing in percentages leads to trouble."

From Chapter 19, Down for the Count

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Stories and Sketches, by Sarah Orne Jewett


"He made everything as easy as possible, the friendly creature, and the ladies were grateful to him.  Beside, now that the bonnet was on again there was a great improvement in Miss Dobin's appearance."

From The Dulham Ladies

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Long Farewell, by Michael Innes


"If, one day something very surprising turned up about him, you wouldn't -- so to speak -- be very surprised."

From I, Prologue in Italy

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Lady with Lapdog and Other Stories, by Anton Chekhov, translated by David Magarshack


"What it all comes to is a confused and incoherent mixture of stories which are  as old as the hills but still unfinished."

From Ward 6, Chapter One

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Caricature

Clerihew of a Likely Story


If boy met tiger,
He'd end up inside 'er.
And so farewell
to Yann Martel.

Daily Dose

From Love Poems, by Pablo Neruda, translated by Donald D. Walsh


When your hands leap
towards mine, love,
what do they bring me in flight?
Why did they stop
at my lips, so suddenly,
why do I know them,
as if once before,
I have touched them,
as if, before being,
they travelled
my forehead, my waist?
Their smoothness came
winging through time,
over the sea and the smoke,
over the Spring,
and when you laid
your hands on my chest
I knew those wings
of the gold doves,
I knew that clay,
and that colour of grain.
The years of my life
have been roadways of searching,
a climbing of stairs,
a crossing of reefs.
Trains hurled me onwards
waters recalled me,
on the surface of grapes
it seemed that I touched you.
Wood, of a sudden,
made contact with you,
the almond-tree summoned
your hidden smoothness,
until both your hands
closed on my chest,
like a pair of wings
ending their flight.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Bookstore Beast

Daily Dose

From Love Poems, by Pablo Neruda, translated by Donald D. Walsh


I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Clerihew of New English Mystification


Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tried the tide to stem, or run
Against the current of atheism
Polluting Transcendentalism.

If He Were Alive Today...

Daily Dose

From Two Lives, by William Trevor


"Having read so far, you'll probably be surprised to learn that I'm a woman who prays."

From My House in Umbria, Chapter 1

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Breakfast at the Bookstore with Brad and Nick #65

Daily Dose

From Selections from The Rambler, by Samuel Johnson


"That verse may be melodious and pleasing, it is necessary, not only that the words be so ranged as that the accent may fall on its proper place, but that the syllables themselves be so chosen as to flow smoothly into one another. This is to be effected by a proportionate mixture of vowels and consonants, and by tempering the mute consonants with liquids and semivowels."

From Rambler #88 (January 19, 1751)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

From The Seattle Review of Books

Meet Brad Craft, University Book Store’s used book buyer

Brad Craft, the used book buyer at University Book Store, says he “didn’t grow up in a bookish atmosphere” — he didn’t have access to a good library, and none of his teachers introduced him to the joys of literature. Where did he learn to love books? “Yard sales,” he says. He was especially drawn to a certain type of book: “I’ve read more gothic romance novels than most men my age,” Craft explains. He assumed the bodice-rippers that he bought from his neighbors were classics of literature. “They looked like classics to me,” he says. The women on the covers “were in historical costumes,” after all, just maybe with a little more cleavage than you’d find on the cover of your typical Bronte book. For a long time, Craft says, “I couldn’t tell you the difference between a novelization of Airport ’77 and a Jane Austen novel.” 
But he did eventually move on from the smut to the real classics: “I didn’t read Austen until I was in my late thirties, and then she was a revelation.” Now he’s obsessed, calling himself “a big set person.” At his home, he has matching sets of works by Fielding, Kipling, a 24-volume Balzac collection and “four sets of Dickens, I’m afraid.” What’s his favorite Dickens? “David Copperfield is close to my heart. I’ve read that more than all the others, including The Pickwick Papers. And I’m a big fan of The Old Curiosity Shop. I don’t even like allegory, but I think it’s a really exquisitely achieved allegory.” Craft has heard the quote attributed to Oscar Wilde that a reader “would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of [Curiosity Shop’s] little Nell without dissolving into tears...of laughter,“ but he disagrees: “I actually think it’s beautifully done.”
Craft worked at the late, lamented Stacey’s Books in San Francisco for 12 years. He’s done time at other used bookstores, and he even worked a handful of months in a corporate bookstore — “I had no emotional attachment to the place, but it did give me insights into the sale of things that happened to be books.” He can’t recall exactly how long he’s been at University Book Store — 12 or 13 years, give or take — but he knows that he helped convince management to add used books to the bookstore’s stock about a decade ago. He’s been behind the counter ever since.
Craft has been drawing since even before he could read. “My mother tells me that I drew before I talked. If she wanted me to be quiet and content, she just put a drawing implement in my hand and put me in the corner and I kept myself busy.” He started out copying John R. Neill’s illustrations from the Oz books, and even today he posts his bookish illustrations on his blog, Usedbuyer 2.0. A collection of his illustrations is for sale at University Book Store, and he sells author caricature calendars every December.
With all the talk about classics and used books, some might be surprised to learn that Craft is an avid podcaster. He’s been recording his Breakfast at the Bookstore show with Nick DiMartino for over a year now. “I’m a relatively late adopter of technology,” he admits, “but then I can become very enthusiastic.” Craft got into literary podcasts as a fan, but then he discovered that most of them were “over-specialized,” focusing only on specific subgenres of mystery, say, or certain types of science fiction. Instead, he wanted to do something a little broader, talking about all kinds of book-related topics with all kinds of guests.
Craft also headlines events at University Book Store on a regular basis. He reads Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” every year at the holidays — this last year was his eighth performance — and he’s also celebrated the birthdays of Dickens and Thackeray with readings, as well as a celebration of the poems of William Cowper. (“That was a barn-burner, right there,” he laughs.) “It allows me to serve ham three or four times a year,” Craft says, and it provides a rare opportunity for adults to sit and be read to, which is a pleasure that too many people give up after childhood. “I just think literature is meant to be read aloud,” Craft says. “The greatest literature needs to be put into the air now and again.”
What does Craft love most about University Book Store? “Perhaps its age more than anything else,” he says. “There’s a tradition here of respect both for the customers and the employees. They really want their booksellers to have things like health insurance and a livable wage. The values clearly are from an earlier era in a lot of ways — in a lot of good ways.”

Daily Dose

From Selections from The Rambler, by Samuel Johnson


"However age may discourage us by its appearance from considering it in prospect, we shall all by degrees certainly be old; and therefore we ought to inquire what provision can be made against that time of distress? what happiness can be stored up against the winter of life? and how we may pass our latter years with serenity and cheerfulness?"

From Rambler #69

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Essays of William Hazlitt, edited by Frank Carr


"The devotion to nonsense, and enthusiasm about truffles, is highly affecting as a moral lesson: it is one of the striking weaknesses and greatest happinesses of our nature."

From On Wit and Humour

Monday, February 8, 2016

Superbowl Scandals

Daily Dose

From Essays: First Series, by Ralph Waldo Emerson


"A man is the whole encyclopedia of facts."

From Essay One, History

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pumpkin Sitting Clerihew


If you would know
Henry David Thoreau,
Go to Walden
And fall in.

If He Were Alive Today...

Daily Dose

From Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, by Angela Y. Davis


 “I want to express concern that our collective relationship to history in this country is seriously flawed.”

From Chapter 9, Political Activism and Protest from the 1960s to the Age of Obama

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Most Wanted Man in China: My Journey from Scientist to Enemy of the State, by Fang Lizhi, translated by Perry Link


“Yes, the universe was beautiful, and worth knowing too.  There was a reason for me to keep on living after all.”

From Chapter 10, Reeducation at Bagong Mountain

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Breakfast at the Bookstore with Brad and Nick #64

Daily Dose

From Up From Slavery: An Autobiography, by Booker T. Washington


 “Great men cultivate love and only little men cherish a spirit of hatred; assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong; oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Up From Slavery: An Autobiography, by Booker T. Washington


“In my contact with people, I find that, as a rule, it is only the little, narrow people who live for themselves, who never read good books, who do not travel, who never open up their souls in a way to permit them to come into contact with other souls – with the great outside world.”

From Chapter XIV

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois


 “Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor, — all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked, — who is good? not that men are ignorant, — what is Truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men.”

from Chapter XII

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Admiring Bog

I was famous for a two block radius.  Lasted about a month.

Some time back around Thanksgiving, I was asked again by the folks from our promotions department at the bookstore where I work to pose for a another photograph.  "Why, sure."  Always happy to mug like a zoo-born baboon for the camera.  The rising generation is widely believed to record their every new skin in "selfies" which are then posted immediately to social media.  The middle-aged tend to more reservations when it comes to the (photographic) presentation of self in everyday life.  I think it fair to say that booksellers, as a category of person, tend to the shy.  As someone who does daily posts for the bookstore's various sallies at an online presence, I have some experience with reluctant models and shy coworkers. Obviously I'm not, in a good cause or no, so I think I've become something of a default when it comes to the bookstore's Holiday campaigns and the like.  Nothing to do with my good looks, you understand.  Like a toddler in her first tutu, I've only to be asked to dance.

Happily, one of my favorite fellow-workers in the vineyard, the beautiful and funny Ms. Letty was also tapped that day to pose.  They may have told us what we were posing for, but neither of us remembered if they had.  We just showed up when and where we were told to be, collected a few favorite books when asked to, and then smile, smile, smile, together and individually for roughly an hour.  It was fun.  Done and done.

I don't remember exactly when the billboard was mentioned, or mentioned again -- nor does Letty.   We came to awareness, after some time and in some fashion eventually, and we were both of us flattered and perhaps a little horrified.  Who wouldn't wonder what one's puss might look like when reproduced many times life-size, "warts and all"?  Nothing to be done about it of course, at least not by us, after the fact, as it were, but we did make some nervous jokes about Photoshop and modern miracles of digital photography.

Time passes, and as is usual with me, on I "swept through life on a steady amnesiac flow,”As Edith Wharton so happily phrased it somewhere.  turns out the thing went up two or three days before anyone thought to mention it to me.

 "You're famous now," said someone I knew not at all.  Thanks? 

The mystery deepened throughout the day as various strangers said similarly mystifying things to me about my new notoriety.

"Saw your face on 45th Street!"

"Lookin' good up there!"

"I was staring at you the whole time I was at the dentist this morning!"

Turns out that by the time anyone actually used the world "billboard" to explain my new popularity, I'd been driving right past the damned thing for three days. 

Naturally I walked down to have a look.  There it was, above the donut shop, next to a gas station, two blocks from the bookstore.  Looked pretty good, I thought -- the sign, I mean.  Nice design, good slogan.  Letty of course looked lovely as well.  I confess to thinking that I looked more like someone who'd worked out how to sleep in a window-seat on a small airplane than a man who was trying to sell books.  Still, nice.

A day or so later a very nice young women in a ḥijāb made eye-contact with me on the sales-floor.  She smiled with what I took to be the shock of recognition.  I blush to say I assumed she'd seen the billboard.

"I'm sorry to stare," she said when I smiled back, "but you look just like my grandfather!"

"How dreary to be somebody," says the line from a poem by Emily Dickinson.

I shall miss it?