Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Admission to Rare Book Show on Sunday

Now here's a deal that can't be missed...

On Sunday, October 25th from 10:00AM - 5:00PM there will be a rare book show in Golden Gate Park's Hall of Flowers. Yes, I will be there hawking scarce tomes to the masses. Yes, there will be all kinds of goodies from vintage pulps to leather-bound signed limited editions, art monographs, scarce photography, underground comics and psychedelic poster books. No, you don't have to pay a penny to get inside, which is nice, because you want to save those fish skins for that special something you just can't live without.

The weather should be spectactular, and there will be more than 50 book dealers in attendance, so please drop on by booth #16 and say "Hi!"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

VideoTime: Run DMC on Reading Rainbow


The Book That Changed Your Life

I know, I know, choosing a single book to pinpoint a definitive change in your life is ridiculously difficult. But NPR recently re-aired an episode of This American Life which got me thinking about this question again. Of course I came up with many titles and many reasons, some trivial (I used a large dictionary that my grandmother gave me for my birthday as a step-stool...for years) and others more serious (Nella Larsen's, Quicksand, presented me with a new perspective of being neither wholly Korean or Caucasian).

What book changed your life?

And if you have the time, click here to listen to four stories of people who believe that a book changed their life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Loma Prieta and Green Apple

It was 20 years ago last week (October 17, 1989) that the Loma Prieta earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area, and Green Apple counted itself among the lucky that day. Here are a few pictures from the damage. . . . .

. . .and clean-up.

Green Apple re-opened the next day.

Here's then-new-bookseller, now-co-owner Kevin Ryan literally standing above Tough Choices. He's always been partial to the hammer:

I assure you that we have since taken great strides to better secure the bookcases to the walls. Really.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Seventy-Two Year Long Strange Trip

If you're a regular at Green Apple you've probably seen this guy hanging around our free bins. Among the staff here he is affectionately know as 'The Rev.' I've never been told his real name, and honestly I kind of don't want to know. He is The Rev forever in my head and has been a part of "the Green Apple ecosystem" for longer than I even know.

Aside from just being a generally nice guy, The Rev is always dropping in the store with helpful information. For example if he sees a notorious shoplifter in the neighborhood (yes, sadly there are a few scumbag regulars that have chosen us as a target), we're clued in asap. If we need to bring our tarps out to protect our bin books from the rain, same deal. I've heard a few people complain that he monopolizes the free stuff, and yeah, on a day where he pulls a "full shift" out in front of the store his hauls are huge. Y'know what though? It's not a crime to take advantage of a good thing to its fullest. To justify our liking for him even further though here's a story that I was told last winter, just after Christmas-

I had asked The Rev how he'd been doing for the holiday season. Cooley, he replied that it had been good, and that he made enough from reselling our free books just in time to carry on his usual Christmas tradition. When I asked him to elaborate he told me, "Well, a lot of kids in my building don't have a whole lot going on for them in the way of family Christmas sort of stuff, so I get my Santa Claus costume on and take 'em all out to pizza, which is tough 'cause twenty-five kids shouting for pizza and pounding the tables in a restaurant can be kind of difficult... it's good to see though." I'm told the bill tends to run him close to four hundred dollars or so.

Anyhow, the reason I'm putting the spotlight on The Rev today is because I just learned that this coming Thursday the twenty-second is his seventy-second birthday. So if you happen to see him out on Clement wish him a good one. I will. I'd also like to note that during the writing of this post The Rev popped in to tell us that there was a rainbow outside. I'm not kidding about that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Robert Walser...The Tanners

Robert Walser was an eccentric writer. Though I am only a fraction of the way through with the New Directions The Tanners, just recently released, I thought I would talk about it anyway.

First off...this book is funny. Funny in that offhanded, early 20th century funny. But funny in a timeless way. Funny as only the down and out and slightly insane can write funny. Walser wanders in and out of story & thought. In and out of letters to and from bothers. In and out of jobs and towns. His protagonist, Simon, is off-the-cuff and unremarkable (though charming and fascinating) except in his own eyes.

The book begins with Simon walking into a bookstore and telling the owner, "I want to be a bookseller...I yearn to become one, and I don't know what might prevent me from carrying out my intentions. I've always imagined the trade in books must be an enchanting activity, and I cannot understand why I should still be forced to pine away outside of this fine, lovely occupation. For you see, sir, standing here before you, I find myself extraordinarily well suited for selling books in your shop, and selling as many as you could possibly wish me to."

Just a few pages after this we read a letter, one Simon has not yet read, from his older brother Klaus chastising Simon for his wandering ways and his inability to stick with a job and then...

"When a week had passed, Simon entered his employer's office just as evening was arriving and made the following speech: 'You have disappointed me. Don't look so astonished, there's nothing to be done about it, I shall quit your place of business this very day and ask you that you pay me my wages. Please, let me finish. I know perfectly well what I want. During the past week I've come to realize that the entire book trade is nothing less that ghastly if it must entail standing at one's desk from early morning to late at night...writing like some accursed happenstance copyist and performing work unsuitable for a mind such as my own."

The other wonderful thing about this book is the introduction (though it is lengthy it is totally worth the read) which is an excerpt for a to be announced collection of essays by W.G. Sebald, A Place in the Country. This essay, Le Promeneur Solitaier: A Remembrance of Robert Walser is fascinating and incredibly well written. Next on my list to read is some Sebald. I can tell that I have been missing out.