May 19, 2018
Hook and Satur(day)
by Melville House
SMTWTFS: One of these initials is not like the others. Well, actually, it’s “S,” so it is like one of the others, but we’re talking here about that second “S.” The beautiful “S.” The “S” that stands for Saturday.
According to popular accounts, Saturdays were first discovered in the Middle Ages by Dr. Gustavus Saturdinius, who was either a Dalmatian sardine merchant or a Sardinian dalmation breeder (accounts vary). In the time since, they have developed into a crucial time of rest, consideration of the preceding week, and cartoon-viewing.
Well, friends, it is devoutly wished that you read this today in a state of rest. A cartoon awaits you, fear not. And in the meantime, here’s what’s been on hand for the past week:
- Ian Dreiblatt brought us a rousing game of Fragment of Great Literature or Nine Inch Nails Lyric? — the game everyone’s been talking about. And sure, the ruiner ruins everything he sees, but he couldn’t ruin the good times we had. Nikolai Gogol couldn’t be reached for comment.
- Stephanie DeLuca covered an anonymous patron’s return to the San Francisco Public Library of a copy of Soul on Ice that was forty-seven years overdue. Forty-seven years. A fine old enough to be a grandparent.
- Tom Clayton anticipated an upcoming poetry recital, with live cello accompaniment, that Bill Murray plan to give in an ancient Greek amphitheater this fall. The performance will, reportedly, be “grand like your mother’s mum, hands off the cummerbund.”
- Peter Clark relayed news of a new plan for the University of Texas library — in particular, that it’s very light on books.
- Michael Barron reflected on the loss of legendary author, and notorious rocker of impeccable suits, Tom Wolfe. Even in weirdly soporific contexts, Wolfe’s uniqueness and verve shone brilliantly. He will be missed.
- Terry Sperry was deep underground, performing research on the earth’s core. We expect her back next week.
- Simon Reichley got unexpectedly held up running some errands. We look forward to seeing him next week.
- Susan Rella reported on Baldface Books, the New Hampshire indie that’s decided to swap bricks and mortar for pixels and modem sounds, in the hope that operating on the web will make it more possible for them to move their higher-value antiquarian stock.
- Alex Primiani gave us her personal listing of ten Melville House books destined to become classics. Hell yes.
- Ryan Harrington bid farewell to legendary publisher Peter Mayer, who passed away last week at the age of eighty-two.
- Nikki Griffiths was off seeking some perspective. We anticipate her return next week.
We were also very delighted to publish:
- This clarion call from longtime MobyLives contributor, author, and bookseller Josh Cook to protest Sean Spicer’s appearance at this year’s BookExpo. “The book world might not be able to stop this, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it.” No, no we don’t.
- Another exciting discovery in the emerging discipline of C.D. Rose studies — a cache of notebooks, featuring brief descriptions of several of the books considered for Rose’s lectures in Who’s Who When Everyone is Someone Else. “The lucky reader is thus able to revel in Borstal’s adventures and impressions without ever having to go to the discomfort of actually experiencing them.” Powdered eggs, anyone?
As ever, there were a couple news stories we just didn’t get to:
- Earlier this week, Donald Trump contra naturam made some financial disclosures. Besides the headline info—$250,000 in reimbursements to noted henchperson Michael Cohen—the information revealed that Trump continues to make money off a number of his old books. In particular, his seven best-selling titles made him between $136,006 and $1,1350,000 over the past year.
- In the small town of Throop, Pennsylvnia, just outside Lazy Scranton, WW Norton has bought a warehouse from HarperCollins. The plan is to use it when the nearby warehouse currently maintained by Norton’s distribution arm, the National Book Company, runs out of space, which should be pretty soon.
- In Germany, where the postal service has been privatized and is now run by Deutsche Post DHL (the world’s largest international courier service, and Europe’s largest deliverer of mail), it has been announced that the cost of shipping books will increase, beginning July 1st. The book rate for packages up to half a kilogram is increasing twenty percent (from €1 to €1.20); for a kilogram of books, it’s a smaller rise of just about three percent (from €1.65 to €1.70).
- “We messed up,” says Waterstones managing director James Daunt, of a plan the company has reversed to open an unbranded store in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. The problem? While Waterstones has been opening unbranded stores that ape the vibes of indies for a couple years, they’ve promised not to do so in places where they’d inevitably be competing with actual indies. And Stockbridge does house such an indie — Golden Hare Books, who’ve been around since 2014. Once the conflict was pointed out to him, Daunt acknowledged it, and changed the plan.
- Jimmy Kimmel has decisively proved that Americans have never heard of any books. What’s that? This doesn’t seem ironclad to you? Sorry, folks — science has spoken.
And, finally, it’s Saturday, and you shall have your cartoon! If you’re a fan of ancient spirits freed from the tombs that have enclosed them for endless millennia, mummies asking, “What is a cell phone?”, and chipper scenes of San Francisco in the nineties, you are sure to enjoy the debut episode of Mummies Alive!, a forgotten, classic series from Canada. Behold:
Take care, y’all. We’ll see you back here when the solar barque emerges over the horizon on Monday.