Monday, November 25, 2013


(NOTE: Tell Kudu-Crawlin’ Red, tell Abyssinian Ned/Tell ol’ Pistol Pete, everybody gonna meet/Tonight we need no rest, we really gonna throw a mess/We gonna to break out all of the windows, we gonna kick down all the doors/We gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long/All night long/All night long/All night long)

In a Paris Review interview, William Faulkner said, “…the best job that was ever offered to me was to become a landlord in a brothel. In my opinion it’s the perfect milieu for an artist to work in. It gives him perfect economic freedom; he’s free of fear and hunger; he has a roof over his head and nothing whatever to do except keep a few simple accounts and to go once every month and pay off the local police. The place is quiet during the morning hours, which is the best time of the day to work. There's enough social life in the evening, if he wishes to participate, to keep him from being bored…”
Even better is the bookstore, where the exchange of ideas and old stories made new by new readers happens as soon as the doors open for business. The bookseller is there to greet you with marvels: history, how-to and where-to, fantasy, literature, cookery and cooking, poems of thunder and light, foreign languages, birding, travel, great screaming novels of these here states, art, and fuzzy kittens doing funny things. Inside a bookstore are light and life, and, contrary to Faulkner’s chosen venue, less chance of getting an STD. This is important.

Many Americans slump to the sales offered by the big stores on the day after or the day of Thanksgiving, in search of savings for the next round of overindulgence in December. Some regard this orgy of consumerism as a sign of the end of days. They may be right. What is bought today is landfill tomorrow, and most landfill sites are already full. Rarely does a book poke out of the pile of broken and pointless merchandise. A book lasts longer than the sweet sentiment behind its giving, and is passed down and around friends and family.

An alternative to Black Friday is Small Business Saturday, coming to you on November 30, 2013. Smart, good-looking, and properly groomed writers will stalk the aisles of your favorite independent bookstore to give bookish advice, giftwrap your purchases, and generally help the booksellers who help them. Poet, novelist, and short story writer Sherman Alexie (appearing at Queen Anne Book Company, Secret Garden Books, and Elliot Bay Book Company among others in Seattle, Washington) came up with this idea, and bookstores and writers have taken it from one side of the country to the other. Dave Barry will be at Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida; Amy Brill and Jon Scieszka at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, New York; Rick Bass at Fact & Fiction in Missoula, Montana; Ginny Rorby at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, California; and a whole bunch of others. Check out the website at, and let your conscience do the buying.

Faulkner grabbed the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949, and this is why he could say what he did in the interview with Jean Stein. Not so with The Dog Walked Down the Street: An Outspoken Guide for Writers Who Want to Publish (Cypress House, $13.95). This fine book is polite, courteous, self-effacing, and can be read in front of decent people. When out on Small Business Saturday, make sure to purchase at least seven copies from your local independent bookstore. Each will come in handy as gifts to the readers and writers on your list that have been good all year long, except for the weekend in April no one talks about. Log on to to find the store near you. Now wash your hands.

NEXT: Paw Prints on the Pillow

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