Like my comrade, the illustrious scribe of Bibliodeviant, I will also traipse through a serial recount of *my* first New York ABAA Book Fair in a similar fashion and how the sideshow, that is Lux Mentis, embellishes the landscape of the book trade and book collecting like the carnival we seem to entertain. Inspired, though by the words of Mr. Kearns, I would like to address the idea of bookselling as identity and image briefly.
After working over 20 years in library land and visual arts culture, I’ve worn several hats. However, not just one will underscore my identity, which to some I apparently wear openly and ripe for criticism. We can model ourselves in such a way that the world might fantasize about librarians in that perverse and/or cryptic and ‘monkish’ kind of way, or we can shine bright like a diamond* with a freak flag of superb owning up to our singular individuality, our own individual prowess to flourish and thrive in this profession.
Basically, the same perception applies to hungry, curious, and experienced visitors at your book fair booth, in your house, your library, your bookshops. You never know what they might bring to the table. Same goes for your fellow booksellers. So, regardless if you have marked skin, blue hair, fancy tweeds, tortoise shell glasses or honest awkwardness, we corral a fierce sense of advocacy for printed and written matter that gives these manifestations of glory multi-generational lives that are passed through a series of hands, hearts, and minds. We have the opportunity to support and create libraries, research, passions, and histories for people, otherwise drowning in the mediocrity in the world. We will find success in those connections, rather than in a litany of judgment based on gender, appearance, and other personal identities.
I could further throw a tirade of shade*, but rather, let’s tunnel into the rabbit hole of New York. As others have mentioned, New York is on fire with grit and action, unlike any other metropolitan in the US, however like I mentioned in a previous blog, the city is a hotbed for bibliophilic intellectualism and performative ingenuity. The New York Antiquarian Book Fair is a force and now I know compared to the somewhat laissez-faire attitude of California (as least Pasadena), I understand why it operates as such. The Park Armory building is a gorgeous architectural example of late 19th century Gothic revival design suitably fitting to encase a labyrinthine maze of booksellers. I felt sort of enveloped in a skeletal shell, ironically housing the biblio-madness for the next few days.
Before set-up started on Wednesday, I can’t slide by without saluting a few notable events and people. Through a blizzard (ha!), we made our way through the quiet snow of Massachusetts to the insanely talented home of Michael Kuch, artist, to pick up the latest iteration of work debuting at the fair [images to follow]. We also lavished in the presence of Marvin Taylor and Charlotte Priddle at the Fales Library & Special Collections, NYU where I pawed around the stacks a bit, as well. Lastly, I would be lying if I wasn’t fidgeting like a 3 year old needing to pee, because I was able to see the Mystery and Benevolence exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum. Get your secret handshake on.
To be continued…[Next up, witness me!*]
*If any of you get my pop culture references, you are Gucci. Yes, I am a metalhead who listens to Ri-Ri.