Posts Tagged ‘bookstores’
September 26, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
Nations of the world, take note: there are a number of benefits to running an embassy out of an historic mansion on Fifth Avenue. First, look around: you’re in an historic mansion on Fifth Avenue! Second, go upstairs: you’re still in that same historic mansion, on the same Fifth Avenue! Third, take stock of the fact that, because you don’t pay rent, you can kiss off market forces and open any business you’d like … in your historic mansion on Fifth Avenue!
Antonin Baudry, the cultural counselor for the French Embassy, had such a realization a few years ago. For more than sixty years, the embassy has made use of the Payne Whitney House, an opulent Italian Renaissance–style home erected from 1902 to 1906 at Fifth Ave. and 79th St. It seemed a shame, he thought, to deny passersby the chance to see its tongue-lollingly gorgeous interior. It also seemed a shame that New York had lost its last French bookstore, the Librairie de France, in 2009 …
You may see where this is headed. Baudry and his staff are at this moment putting the finishing touches on Albertine, a new French bookstore housed in the embassy—it opens Saturday at eleven A.M. When I visited yesterday, Baudry showed me around its impressive two floors, which had already achieved—though the ladders and drop clothes were still in evidence, and the painters were still painting, the burnishers still burnishing—an enviable blend of new bookstore smell and old building smell. It resembles a magnificent private library of the sort you’d expect to find in a turn-of-the-century estate. Read More »
June 6, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- It’s the fiftieth anniversary of Joanne Greenberg’s I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, a YA novel about her time as a schizophrenic teen. “Not long after I Never Promised You a Rose Garden became canonical, it also became a lightning rod … Greenberg claimed full recovery, and many psychiatric professionals worried that this would inspire a false and dangerous hope. Schizophrenics, they said, simply cannot recover.”
- A new location (and ambiance) for Foyles, “London’s temple of books”: “Light streams down from rooftop windows on to a spacious white-walled atrium catching the edge of a 1930s dancefloor like a spotlight. It’s a huge change of scene for Foyles … which was once famed for dark forbidding bookshelves and a payment system so arcane that many visitors chose to steal rather than buy their favored paperback.”
- Chester Nez, the last of the original Navajo code-talkers, has died at ninety-three.
- What if it were your job to deliver bad news all day? You would succumb to a deep and enduring existential malaise, experts say.
- “The best way to think about the universe is as a multidimensional space-time loaf.”
June 5, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Now on display at a German museum: a replica of one of Van Gogh’s ears. (Hint: it’s not the one he didn’t cut off.) “Created using 3D printers and genetic material from a living relative of van Gogh, it was shaped to be the exact size of the Dutch painter’s ear and is kept alive in a nourishing liquid.”
- Yesterday’s usage wars were every bit as fraught and irrational as today’s: “‘Dilapidated’ was frowned upon by some because it comes from a Latin root, lapis, meaning stone, so it was thought that you should only refer to a dilapidated building if it was actually made out of stone … And it was considered that luncheon was the proper noun and that lunch was really only to be used as a verb.”
- What chemical compounds produce the smells of new and old books? Vinyl acetate ethylene, alkyl ketene dimer, and 2-ethyl hexanol, of course!
- Tales from New York’s bookstores: “One day a woman asked us which Jennifer Egan book she should read … We recommended Look at Me, and then suggested, ‘If you’d like it signed, Jennifer Egan is right next to you and is quite nice.’”
- Centralia, Pennsylvania: still on fire. Has been since at least ’62.
June 2, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Envisioning the brick-and-mortar bookstores of tomorrow: “Wide steps double as seating and lead down to a bar and a stage, where a writer performs—‘authors will become more like rock stars’—or a ‘book wizard’ explains the craft of making books. The book you make might be one by the writer on stage, something you’ve written yourself, or any other text the robots conjure up.”
- “I think poetry has really rather connived at its own irrelevance and that shouldn’t happen, because it’s the most delightful thing … We have lost the sense that poetry sits halfway between prose and music—that you can’t expect to read it like a novel. We are quite used to downloading an album and listening to certain tracks … poetry needs to be consumed in that way.”
- On Tolkien’s 1926 translation of Beowulf, which was finally published last month: “The literary landscape has changed since then in a way that Tolkien would have neither expected nor accepted: he now towers in fame over Beowulf. Last year, Penguin repackaged its Michael Alexander translation as one of five ‘classic [stories] that inspired J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit.’ but far more people will read the book for Tolkien’s sake than for Beowulf’s.”
- “Though their obsolescence has been prophesied at various points, neighborhoods remain a vital—perhaps the most vital—way of thinking about the modern city.”
- A 1959 promotional comic touts the glories of atomic energy through Reddy Kilowatt, everyone’s favorite grinningly electric asexual mascot: “I’m a real, live wire and I never tire. Yes, sir—I’m a red-hot shot. I can cook your meals, turn the factory wheels, ’cause I’m Reddy Kilowatt.”
January 16, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Great news: we’re living in the most peaceful era* in human history!
- “To hell with Gatsby’s green light!” Why we should stop teaching novels to high school students.
- Shelley Jackson is, “weather permitting,” inscribing a story entirely in snow.
- One way to save a failing bookshop: beg people on Facebook to come spend money there.
- Forget Paris. Nantes, a city “situated in the estuary of the Loire,” is where it’s at.
*persistent, intractable religious hostilities notwithstanding