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.
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .