Friday, March 20, 2009

Greetings from New York

Hello, bibliophile comrades! This is Kelsey writing from the Big Apple and I am spending my second half of Spring Break in this fine, chaotic city visiting my brother who is living here for an internship. This place is amazing, really, but I must say my heart will always be in Fort Collins.

I am posting because today I had a chance to visit one of New York's many, many locally owned book stores: Saint Mark's Book Shop. I found it on accident online while searching a record store recommended to me by a friend, and thought it might be worth checking out based on the reviews alone. My parents, sister, and I made the long treak from the tip of Manhatten up through the city to find 3rd Street and St. Mark's with only our poor senses of direction and a small, inaccurate map to guide us. After a good two or three hour walk we were about ready to hail a cab and crash back at the hotel, but we pressed on an found it around the next corner. I was worried at first that the place would be a disappointment, and I had dragged my family along with me so I felt responsible for the turnout. We weren't disappointed, or at least my mother and I weren't. My father and sister spent most of the their time at Saint Mark's Book Shop in the art, humor, and fashion sections, but my mother and I got lost in the shelves immediately. The place reminded me a lot of our humble little Firehouse Book Store, but with a style only found in New York. For example, they included an entire section dedicated solely to Anarchist Literature and played a music best categorized as bizaare, to say the least. I limited myself to four books--
  • Angels by Denis Johnson: His novel, Jesus' Son, is one of my favorites, and when the woman working there recommended him I knew it was time to pick up another of his books. As far as I can tell so far, it's about a woman traveling cross country on a bus with her baby daughter to escape a brutal relationship.
  • Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson: I probably wouldn't have recognized her name had I not read the back of the book, but Johnson was with Jack Kerouac when his fame was just beginning to spark. This book is about the women of the beat generation who faded into the background of their male counterparts, yet lived just as interesting and progressive lives.
  • Counter Culture Through the Ages by Ken Goffman: I'd heard of this book before and took the time to skim it in the store. It covers all of life's rebels "from Abraham to Acid House" covering everything from the Spain's conquests to Bill Gates.
  • Child of God by McCarthy: This one was recommended to me by a close friend who loved The Road as much as I did. This one sticks with McCarthy's less-than-cheerful outlook and is about a man accused of rape and murder of young women. I'll try to take this one in small doses.

I know how absurd this is-- to be buying books in New York that I could have gotten an employee discount on if I ordered them at work, but I just couldn't resist. I was reminded by a customer who once told me that they are more a fan of buying books than reading them, and I fear that I'm headed on this same dark, dirt poor path. I've started all of them already, in addition to the two I brought along for the plane, and I'm not disappointed.

The woman working there seemed ecstatic that I would ask her opinion on what to read, and would pop up throughout my visit from behind shelves with some other "must-read" from her own collection. Her advice was worth having.

So now these four books are on their way home to sit on my shelf with the others that are half read and itching to be finished. I need more hours in the day. I'm sure you all can relate.


  1. According to Umberto Eco, the process of going into a bookstore and buying as many books as your budget allows isn't a dark path, it just means you're smart.

  2. My shelves (and boxes, and bags) of unread books do seem menacing sometimes. It's good to know that at least someone thinks I'm doing it right. And Eco's not a bad guy to emulate.