Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Here On the Street Where I Live

I love my neighborhood. If you google 'Carroll Gardens' it is not hard to see why. 
This weekend, after my eight hour Children's book intensive, I walked a new friend to the train. She could not stop gushing, 

"It's like you live in EUROPE!" 
--um...Yeah, I know.

I've said it before, but this is the best part of sharing the best part of New York my home with people. I look at it with fresh eyes when I am explaining its significance in my life.

Today I was going to review a book I bought a while ago on a visit to Community Book Store, but I decided -frack that. Instead I'm going to start by telling you about Community Book Store. I'll review the book later, and you'll appreciate it more, knowing that it was a diamond in the rough.  First, Let's look at this beautiful picture of my favorite neighborhood bookstore, taken in 1972....
This was taken two weeks ago.
Have I mentioned that I love it here?If you make it through the front door, this is what you will find: 
This is the sorted part. As you fight your way further into the recesses of the store, things get sordid. It smells like dust and like books that have been well loved.
The part I like best is that you will never ever know what you will find. Like, for serious.For instance, I once found a turn of the century porno. It had a lovely dove blue cover and a letter pressed title. Five pages in, petticoats were being ripped off in hot passion, or excuse me in piquant moments of rapture. It was published in 1902. I've never used the word "score!" more appropriately as when it I unearthed it from a box of dusty tombs.

I have found long forgotten, terribly important children's books from my past here, cook books that fill me with glee (and butter), instructional encyclopedias that later assisted me in the fixing of sink pipes and the kind of monumental beautiful picture books that are made with hand etched plates.

The store is owned and presided over by The Bookman of Cobble Hill. I was going to put a picture that I took of The Bookman here, but Jacob Murphy, always does it best. See the rest of his beautiful series here.

The amazing thing is that even with the chaos and depth of The Community Book Store, The Bookman, knows where everything is. 

I showed up there a few weeks ago needing a copy of 'A Town Like Alice' for a birthday gift. We had one of our typical exchanges:

Me: 'Do you have A Town Like Alice?

Him: "A Town Like Alice, A Town Like Alice... A Town Like Alice............"Nevile Shute?"

The process is ten kinds of wonderful. He will give you a brand new copy, new releases and stuff publishers are releasing now (usually for 10-20% off list) are up front behind his 'desk'.

If a new copy isn't in his possession, he'll climb deep into the store, moving boxes, re-stacking piles of hardbacks, sometimes even reaching behind books in the shelves, they're stacked two deep. Then he'll simply hand you the volume you're in need of. 
A lot of times if I know I want something new, I'll have him order it for me. Afterall, I'm always looking for an excuse to stop by and see what's 'new' on the corner of Court and Warren.

Simply adding to the eccentricity of this dusty shop of horrors/wonders, The Bookman doesn't really keep typical hours.

On  breezy Summer nights you'll find him smoking his pipe on the  open store's steps well into the late hours of the night. Other times there will be a hand lettered cardboard sign in the window saying something like 'Gone until August - Vacation'. That is what I wanted to tell you about the street where I live today.


Duchess said...

I love this bookstore!
One time I went in there and people were smoking... like it was 1972. You can't smoke inside ANYWHERE in NY!

summer said...

I am so jealous of your bookstore! If I make it to NY, I'm definitely hunting this place down & spending hours upon hours in the stacks. Thanks for the tip!

Amberbop said...

Surely, surely! It is a wonder and a treat.

Duchess said...

It's also a great place to kill time whilst waiting for a table at Joya across the street (aka: the best thai food you'll ever eat)

Pam said...

Ummm...yes, I should refrain I know...but see that girl w/her perfectly toned arms? So not 1970's. The girl staring at her w/peer envy - yes that DOES transcend every generation. 2011 or 1972, no matter. Now the Bookman along w/the ambiance, that is a different matter of timelessness.

yaga said...

Oooh, that sounds so wonderful! If I'm ever in the area I will definitely want to go there!

Cheryl said...

Oh how fun! Thank you so much for sharing! This store has so much CHARACTER! I hope that there will always be little treasures like this that aren't forced out by the big chains. I love that feeling of finding something special. I get the same feeling from music stores too.

Have a great day!


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