Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The End of Another Literary Landmark
It's no secret to anyone who has read this blog how much books and great bookshops mean to me; in a way, they're almost my lifeblood. So it was very distressing this morning to wake up and find several articles in my e-mail inbox about the demise of the Gotham Book Mart, a literary institution in New York City for decades.
I had the opportunity to visit once while I was in New York in 1995, and the one thing I remember strongly about walking through the front door was the tremendous history that hit me in the face, knocked me around, surrounded me. It was one of those extraordinary places where world-famous authors could be found scanning the shelves alongside the average Joe or Jane off the street (although on the day I visited I think it was just Joes and Janes in the stacks). The owner, Andreas Brown, was a real gentleman; he had been trying to help with the appraisal of some books signed by Truman Capote that were owned by the Alabama museum where I was working at the time, and I wanted to drop by to put a face with the name.
And now, the passing of another literary landmark, and it seems to have been a depressing event all around. The picture above and the following article are found in today's on-line edition of the New York Times.
Wall-to-Wall Books, and All of Them for the Landlord
by Ethan Wilensky-Lanford
The line outside the Gotham Book Mart in Midtown snaked down the block yesterday morning. Several dozen eager bargain hunters, book dealers, art collectors and former employees of the storied shop waited to bid on a piece of literary history.
They had each put down a $1,000 deposit for the privilege of attending the auction. Books signed by John Updike. Letters from D. H. Lawrence and Anaïs Nin. Andy Warhol’s wig rack. All were up for sale.