Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Bookseller's Lament

Nearly four centuries ago, Donne suggested that we each die a little when another human being goes. For Mr. Mysak, when another bookseller closes shop, it means that he, too, is a little closer to a literary death. 

So he takes little pride in the fact that at the end of January, his little table stacked high with used books will have outlived the giant Barnes & Noble less than two blocks south, near Lincoln Center. For him, it is just another sign of decay. 

From NYTimes

I guess B&N does better online these days.


  1. Okay folks, is there any one book we can agree on? The leading candidates are:

    Dylan in America
    The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans

    Or, are we going to wait for Colonel Roosevelt in October?

  2. Robert what are you reading? Maybe we could line up with one of your books? Are you interested in Dylan's America?

    Since I saw Dylan when I was sixteen in a gymnasium in Long Beach, somehow Dylan doesn't seem like "history" to me. But then neither did the books I had to read about the 60s and the anti-war movement either. Read a great book on the Cold War, and even that seemed a little too familiar to be history.

    I'm enjoying all the meandering in the meantime and it's giving me a much-needed break -- I can't even finish the last of Stoner even though I've been really enjoying it. Lovely, understated novel.

    As for me in the meantime, I want to pick up the Moviegoer. I remember how that book really influenced many of my friends as young writers.

  3. ''Dylan In America'' sounds absolutely fabulous to me.

    I'll order it right away.

  4. Dylan sounds fine to me as well. I've already ordered the book. I see his Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 will soon be available as well,


  5. The funny part is that my 16 year old son has become a huge fan of this era, although he likes the "harder" stuff like Cream and Humble Pie. Big fan of Steve Marriott. As far as Dylan goes, he likes Highway 61 Revisited because Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper joined him on the album.

  6. BTW, it was Robert who suggested Dylan in America, although I think half-jokingly.

  7. Maybe we can get some of the others to join us, too.

    I like the idea of using Dylan as a way to look at the last 50 or so years. I think it will make for a great discussion. And we can listen to his music, which I really like. I even like his soundtracks.

    Darn. He was in town two weeks ago. I should have gone to hear him. I did see him three or four years ago, though.

  8. I love that your son is discovering Dylan, Cream and some of the music of my youth. I've been dragging my daughter to my music reunions and she's now discovering some of the old folk musicians. She even likes the original Jim Kweskin, one of my old time favorites.

  9. I think NYT is game too. So it looks like we have a quorum. But, we'll see what others say first before putting the title up in Reading Group. We wouldn't be able to do Col. Roosevelt until November.

  10. ''my 16 year old son has become a huge fan of this era''


    My favorite website is youtube in which I visit and post on a daily basis. There have been several occasions when I mention that music of that era was infinitely better than today's. Can you believe that many young people post in reply and say they agree with my assessment? Some even say they wish they had grown up in that time.

    On another thread I mentioned the Good Rats which was my favorite NY band from the 70s and 80s. Young people have said they cannot believe the incredible energy that band displayed on stage. The lead singer is several years older than I and he still displays the same energy ~ the type of stage presence and powerful vocals you just don't see in today's Rock singers. The GRs were influenced by 60s Rock and it is what spurred their energy and creativity. You have to wonder why this creative and inspiring spirit doesn't exist in today's music.

    And much of all that was inspired by Dylan!

  11. Realistically, December -- it doesn't come out until late November according to Amazon, which is odd timing for what I'm assuming will be a big holiday book.

    I have Dylan on order, too, just in case.

  12. I thought it was an October release, but I see now it is Nov. 23 which would make it a December read. Gives us more time for Bob.

  13. The fascinating thing, trip, is that he has done much of this on his own. I had never really listened very much to Humble Pie until he turned me onto them. Frampton Comes Alive was the first I had heard of Frampton, and didn't make the connection to Steve Marriott et. al. Hadn't really listened to Mike Bloomfield either until my son shared some videos with me.

    Now, he is venturing more firmly into the 70s with a growing fascination in Southern Rock. This era I know all too well, so I'm not overly excited about his new love affair with the "South." But, I imagine he will soon grow out of it.

  14. Marriott spent his last years here in Atlanta of all places.

  15. Avrs: my my post on DYLAN IN AMERICA was tongue in cheeck. However, what imptesssed me was that it was written by Sean Wilentz--an inconguss (sic) author to say the least given his previous books. But--if its good enough for Wilentz and giid enough for some of us, its certainly good enough for me. Its bound to be a good choice. I'll download a sample on my Kindle and get at it if it is chosen.
    I'm reading FLIGHT FROM MONTICELLO which is very good and has detailed information on Benedict Arnold--so I'm learning a lot.My memory of history seems fully restored, so a book by a superb historian about a very influential singer/musician might be a good call for me--a chang of pace much needed. Let me know what is decided since my short term memory is choppy, but improving. Ca you e mail me at rwhelan126@aol.com ?

  16. Robert that's great! One of us will email you once it becomes official, but looks like we have a book about Dylan and America in our discussion future.

  17. Whoa. For a few posts on "Dylan in America" I thought the discussion had somehow turned to Dylan Thomas ;-) but I see the Wilentz book is indeed titled "Bob Dylan in America," which makes me wonder if the writer was playing around a bit, which in turn reminds me of the Dylan-Dylan contest in the movie "Dangerous Minds."

    Speaking of retro young'uns, I was startled to hear the strains of Cat Stevens emanating from my daughter' room t'other day--wasn't sure if she was listening to music or viewing "Harold and Maude."

  18. Cat Stevens... another favorite. I think I read somewhere that he can't travel freely anymore since he changed his name.

    Hope you can join us, NY. Looks like we have a great book to discuss all sorts of things about music, culture, and American history (well, if you can call the last 50 years "history"... I think of it as current affairs).

  19. The Barnes & Noble store that is closing in NYC is the one closest to me and near Lincoln Center. It's a real estate issue -- rent going up. The store is usually very busy. B&N said they were looking for another location in the area.

    There is a B&N college book store just 2 blocks from me, but they don't accept the member card or coupons and it's small in comparison to their super stores.