Odyssey Online

Entries from November 2012

An Independent Bookstore Born

November 29th, 2012 · Comments Off on An Independent Bookstore Born

…this from the Atlantic (which is, truth be told, a great place to read about bookstores), a tale of a new independent bookstore born.  When two longstanding independent bookstores closed in Nashville TN (one being a Borders), author Ann Patchett took matters into her own hands and opened a bookstore called Parnassus Books.  The article is an account of the successful start for Parnassus, and includes this great call to arms from Patchett for the reader, for the book enthusiast:

If what a bookstore offers matters to you, then shop at a bookstore. If you feel that the experience of reading a book is valuable, then read a book.   This is how we change the world: We grab hold of it. We change ourselves.

Book buying as civil disobedience–well not exactly, much of the article is, not surprisingly, about her reaction to/contemplation of all the people who told her that print books were dead and the idea of trying to sell them was ill-informed–but you can read her here as a bibliophile’s Self Reliance, an argument that the empowerment of print books is very much a matter for readers, not digerati.  Good news and a good read in Nashville…

Tags: Books

On Bookstores, Shakespeare and Company

November 26th, 2012 · Comments Off on On Bookstores, Shakespeare and Company

…with the holiday’s upon us it seems like a good moment to contemplate bookstores. Independent bookstores.  They are, of course, cousins to libraries, and when they work they exhibit a purpose and collection that functions much as one hopes a library works in a given locale.  Much of the reading one might do in the news on bookstores and their fate would be pretty grim going…tales of closures and “creative destruction.”  However, there is a literature connected about bookstores that speaks to the higher calling therein.  Some Monday morning reading in the Sewanee Review (Fall 2012 issue) and I came across a captivating piece by Seymour I. Toll, “Shakespeare on the Left Bank.” It is a recounting of Sylvia Beach and her Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company.  Toll’s essay not only details Beach’s involvement with the Hemingway, and Joyce, and other modern writers who frequented her shop, he writes about the bookstore as a bookstore–important in that one can accurately say that Shakespeare and Company perhaps holds a status of the Camelot of bookstores, the once and future king…

…more on bookstores anon.  In our collection we have Sylvia Beach’s memoir Shakespeare and Company, and a collection of her letters, 2012, Columbia UP, edited by Keri Walsh.

Tags: Books · Essay on Bibliography · Recommended Book


November 20th, 2012 · Comments Off on ODY on NCPR

…a nice story on North Country Public Radio about the Rockwell Kent exhibition on here at ODY.  It is a lovely exhibition (full disclosure, I’ve been interested in Kent’s work since I was a kid) and is certainly worth a trip in to see.  A sense of what we’ve got on display here:

Tags: SLU Library Event

Privacy and Personal Libraries

November 19th, 2012 · Comments Off on Privacy and Personal Libraries

Under the heading of “this just in,” at MobyLives Ellie Robins has published Your Reading Behavior Is Being Monitored describing the extent to which the major purveyors of electronic books track the habits of readers. It turns out they not only monitor the titles people select, but what exactly is read within a given titles…there is apparently a company that fancies it can sell this kind of technology to universities to track and chart student behavior.   While the article points out that railing against this kind of invasive digital undertaking is yelling at thunderstorms, it brings to mind an article featured on the FODYLL blog, Anthony Daniels’ I: Loss and Gain and The Fate of the Book.   In this particular essay, Daniels ponders the fate of his library after his death:

My library, for the moment so solid and reliable, will dissolve after my death as surely as will my body. Some people claim that the knowledge that the atoms and molecules of which they are composed will survive to be absorbed into the wider world consoles them for the prospect of their death; and I, too, derived, until recently, some consolation from the fact that I am not really the owner of my books, but only the temporary guardian of them until they are passed on to the guardianship of someone else. It is true that when, in earlier years, I bought a book a quarter of a millennium old I looked at the names of the previous owners inscribed on its cover or title page and thought, “Now, at last, the book has found its true owner, its final resting place—me,” and pitied the previous owners for their failure to understand this, and for their ignorance of the book’s final destiny. But now I am more inclined to recall that I have owned the book for thirty years; in another thirty years it will be owned, or looked after, by someone else of whose identity I know nothing, and he will suffer from precisely my delusion and that of all previous owners.

The power of the image here is how a library blends both possession and anonymity.  In collecting these books and amassing this embodiment of his personality, Daniels has to acknowledge that they will not follow him, and will even have lives beyond his possession of them.  By their nature, too, the books also will betray nothing about him, whereas the ethereal e-book will keep a record of your every read long after your gone.  The collection of physical books is possession as person and in being dismantled (the person gone) beings a new unacknowledged legacies.   There is nature in this, there is peace.

Tags: Books · Essay on Bibliography · Yikes!


November 12th, 2012 · Comments Off on Epigrams

At the Poetry Magazine website Vera Pavlova has published a page of her epigrams about poetry.  Two of my favorites:

  • My diaries are letters from my former self to my future self. My poems are replies to those letters.
  • An ideal poem: every line of it can serve as a title for a book.

Epigrams are compasses, ways to navigate the investigations (large and small) that one is about.  We have collections of epigrams from humorous to Hasidic, from Greek to Roman, from John Donne to Fredrich Nietzsche to microfilmed.  An Encore Search on epigram will do it…


Tags: Essay on Bibliography

St. Lawrence University