Thursday, February 26, 2009

Now here's a bookstore

All the books in his store, Fowler explains, are "books that fell between the cracks of history. Subjects you can't believe anyone would publish a book about."

There is Woman's Place in the Rural Economy, for instance, published in 1913 ("Some stylish lesbian will come in and buy it for her girlfriend and everyone will be happy," Fowler says); a 1983 copy of Erno Kunt's Folk Art In Hungarian Cemeteries; a 1952 Avon Cosmetics and Toiletries catalogue ("Smell it," he says, "that's macabre"); John Guthrie's Bizarre Ships of the Nineteenth Century; and the 1973 non-bestseller, Illustrated Guide to Natural Haircare.

These, of course, are the types of things many of us hunt in disorganized second-hand bookstores and thrift shops. Too many libraries are so aggressive about deaquisitioning (ie not being a library) that this stuff would be long gone, if indeed they ever had it. (I'm lucky in being able to use an old, well-funded library at a private university. Some of the stuff they have--particularly half-forgotten early 20th century fiction--is truly amazing.) In a way this store resembles the old Amok catalogs but with a bit more whimsy and life than dour industrial shuttervision.