Along with a few other independent booksellers and librarians, Karl Pohrt — owner of the amazing Shaman Drum Bookshop — went to China to attend the Beijing Book Fair, and give this speech on independent bookselling in America.
Additionally, he’s wrote a daily blog about the trip, which can be found in its entirety here.
Karl’s back in the States now, but has a couple of thoughts about the trip that are definitely worth sharing. Below is the first post. The second one—all about “deep literacy”—will go up later today.
A week and one day later, still jet lagged and sleeping badly, I fly down to Louisville, Kentucky for the American Booksellers Association Third Annual Winter Institute. Sarah McNally, Rick Simonson and Paul Yamazaki are here.
Paul’s report of our trip to his boss Lawrence Ferlinghetti pleased Mr. Ferlinghetti so much that he inscribed copies of Poetry As Insurgent Art for each of us. I am enormously touched.
“This must feel like the ultimate summer camp experience for you guys,” someone tells me during dinner. “You must feel incredibly bonded with the people you were with.”
Actually, it feels much stranger than that. Reentry following this trip has been difficult for me.
It will pass, I suppose.
Rick Simonson is posting a blog of the trip here.
You can read an interview with Allison Hill here.
Certainly we’re not the first western booksellers to visit China, as I was reminded when I saw my friend Tom Hallock, Director of Sales and Marketing at Beacon Press, this weekend in Louisville. In 1990 Tom taught English in Beijing, and he wrote a graceful essay, An American Bookman In Beijing, for the American Bookseller magazine. You can read Tom’s essay here.
Upon completing Albertine Sarrazin’s Astragal I was left to wonder why it ever fell from print. Aside from the location, Astragal could pass as the great American novel. Its edginess and rawness capture the angst and desires we all had. . .
When my eyes first crossed the back cover of Fabio Genovesi’s novel Live Bait, I was caught by a blurb nestled between accolades, a few words from a reviewer for La Repubblica stating that the novel was, however magically, “[b]eyond. . .
“I preferred the war to the plague,” writes Curzio Malaparte in his 1949 novel, The Skin. He speaks of World War II and the destruction it has wrought on Italy, the city of Naples in particular. But the plague he. . .
With the steady rise of feminist scholarship and criticism in recent decades, it is little wonder that the work of Louise Labé should be attracting, as Richard Sieburth tells us in the Afterword to his translation, a “wide and thriving”. . .
In Conversations, we find ourselves again in the protagonist’s conscious and subconscious, which is mostly likely that of Mr. César Aira and consistent with prototypical Aira style. This style never fails because each time Aira is able to develop a. . .
You are not ashamed of what you do, but of what they see you do. Without realizing it, life can be an accumulation of secrets that permeates every last minute of our routine . . .
The narrative history of. . .
Literature in translation often comes with a certain pedigree. In this little corner of the world, with so few books making it into this comforting nook, it is often those of the highest quality that cross through, and attention is. . .
Alessandro Baricco’s Mr. Gwyn is a set of two loosely interlinked novellas that play with narrative and the construction of character. Ably translated by Ann Goldstein, Mr. Gwyn plays some subtle metafictional games as Baricco delves into what it means. . .
I must admit upfront that I went into reading Saadat Hasan Manto’s Bombay Stories almost entirely blind. I have not read Salman Rushdie. I have read, perhaps, two short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. I might shamefully add that I really. . .
Throughout his work The Gray Notebook, Josep Pla mentions many different authors, some of whom have inspired him to pick up a pen. One of them is Marcel Proust. Even though Pla normally prefers nonfiction, he lauds the French novelist. . .