What literary tote bag do you carry?
by Paul Oliver
Translator Susan Bernofsky has a post addressing the question above over at her appropriately named Translationista blog. She was in turn aggregating some of the thoughts posted on Vol. 1 Brooklyn’s post from Wednesday, which also addressed the above question.
Vol. 1 Brooklyn has some witty commentary concerning literary totes. If you have a Strand tote you probably don’t live in NYC, or are a fresh-faced arrival at NYU. If you have a Barnes & Noble tote you hail from the hoi polloi that read only bestsellers and, once again, you probably do not live in NYC. The Green Apple Bookstore tote? Well, you live in NYC but arrived somewhat foolishly and should never have left your native SanFran. The overall theme is that the tote bag speaks of your personal alienation and the desperate desire to be more than what your are.
There are some others on the list, including the one that Bernofsky sought out. The PEN American tote, which denotes that you don’t read authors but instead seek out translators. Yeah. That sophisticated.
Nowhere on the list is a bag that speaks of a person in possession of a truly individual spirit. An old soul with new tastes. Not one of these totes speaks to the fact that you are an amazingly clever lover, easily expound upon the loftiest of subjects and above all maintain a noble, defiant spirit that remains unbowed under any circumstances. That is, strictly speaking, if you’d prefer to be any of those things.
There is no Bartlebag on these lists. There is nothing for the incomparable.
Paul Oliver is the marketing manager of Melville House. Previously he was co-owner of Wolfgang Books in Philadelphia.