December 21, 2011

Jonathan Lethem: Bookselling Was 'My University'

This is what's it's really like to be a bookseller.  To heck with what "everyone's reading"!  Most likely it's not as good as 100 other new books.

Jonathan Lethem: Bookselling Was 'My University'

"I think of bookstore jobs as my university. The physical trade of books was a hallowed way to become a writer in the pre-MFA era. It was the only work I wanted to do, and the only work I was qualified to do.... With bookstores, you go in and you find the things you weren't looking for. The clerk is doing that 24/7--my reading was shaped by what was left behind. And you develop a loathing for the false canon--the two books each year that everybody is supposed to read.... You can't hang onto those sacred quarantines when you see the mad diversity around you."
--Jonathan Lethem, recalling his time as a bookseller for a Salon article on the vanishing bricks-and-mortar shop clerk

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