Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Tribute to a Bookstore

This could be a tribute to most of the bookstores that I frequent, and have become involved with over the past 47 years since I learned to read at age 4. I believe most bibliophiles would agree that bookstores and libraries are holy places for us, the fierce book lovers of the world.

In honor of Broadway Books, author Brian Doyle offered the following tribute:

I was in my favorite independent bookstore in Oregon recently, pawing
through the produce and surreptitiously looking to see if the
proprietesses had left any unattended cookies, when I had A Roaring
Epiphany. I realized that the store was a village green for ideas. A
story-common. A crossroads for voices and songs and debates and
memories. A chapel filled with ink. A pub without beer, mostly. I have
seen dogs reading graphic novels there. I have seen people laugh and
weep. I have seen people hug the proprietesses when said proprietesses
found or suggested Exactly the Right Book for the left-handed
Samoan-American boxing-maniac great-grandmother with a Sarah Palin
tattoo on one bicep and Dave Eggers on the other. I have heard poets
chant there. I have heard small children reading aloud, the coolest
sound in the world. I have heard nutty essayists shouting and telling
lewd stories with high glee and burble. I have seen a child buy a book
and sit down on the floor and start reading it immediately. I have seen
young people read their own work aloud for the first time in their whole
blessed lives. I have seen the proprietors work twelve hours a day. They
have worked awfully hard for inconsiderable coin for twenty years. They
are story ambassadors. They are hope agents. They are imagineers and
dream-merchants. They embrace technology and figure how to dance with
it. They are word-shepherds and story-savers. They do brave crucial
nutritious amazing necessary holy work. If no one savored and treasured
and bought and sold and swapped and talked and argued about books in
little cool energetic flavorful cheerful clean entertaining bookstores
owned by the people who run them then we would starve for all sorts of
lost books and stories and we would have only stories yelled at us from
screens and stories sold to us by cold pollsters and that would be a
reduction and dilution of the nation and species we are. If we did not
have independent bookstores we would be even more herded prey to the
most brilliant marketers among us than we are now and that would be a
great shame. We do not publicly laud and shout our praise for the
crucial work of independent booksellers as much as we should. But today
I will. Today, after twenty years of Broadway Books, I take the rare
chance of speaking for my fellow writers, and my fellow readers, and my
fellow citizens, when I say hey, Broadway Books, thanks, and hey,
cheerful brave proprietesses, thanks, for your hard work, and brave
insistence on story, and witty generosity, and the cookies. Well done.
Very well done. Is there any more beer?

Brian Doyle is a Portland author who has many times been allowed to
chant, sing, shout, mutter, mumble, burble, stutter, shamble, amble,
grumble, stammer, shout, whisper, guffaw, and giggle in the friendly
confines of Broadway Books, in Portland, Ore., long may it wave.

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