May 24, 2016
It was the best of times, it was the best of times: The Melville House Fall 2016 Librarian Preview
by Chad Felix
Last Friday, May 20th, just before 2 pm, we lowered the office drawbridge, opened the office gates, and leashed the office hounds—all in honor of our friends, The Librarians. Indeed, The Librarians—known for their advocacy of free books, education, free space, free Internet access, and more—visited us at Melville House HQ in DUMBO, Brooklyn, in order to learn about our Fall 2016 titles, meet some authors, and speak with a few of their adoring fans (i.e., us).
The afternoon began with the traditional meet-and-greet. The pre-mingle mingle. The dance of the minds. The queries of the mindful. Cookies, grapes, cheese, crackers, and coffee served as refreshments—yea, and verily, they were good. But they were nothing compared to the true refreshment that The Librarians bring to their respective realms every single day. What cheese could compare?
And yet, for all the grapes and goodwill, The Librarians were not yet satisfied. Tough crowd, I thought. But no, I corrected myself: This is a crowd that knows what it wants. They were here for the books: the greater, higher nourishment—the floor upon which the mind waltzes, moshes, electric slides.
And so, after everyone was seated, we brought forth The Books.
The Librarians, who came from near and far, learned of books-to-come via presentations from Melville House publishers and editors. They learned of books like The Apostle Killer by Richard Beard, Glaxo by Hernán Ronsino, and Refugees, Terror, and Other Troubles with the Neighbors by Slavoj Žižek. Their pens dove gloryingly into inkwells, then trailed a silky stream of letters from the left to the right, the top to the bottom, the future-passive (notes to be taken!) to the present active (taking notes!) to the golden past (ah!, the notes! the notes!). It was a rumble felt across the surface of the provided handout: it was the muted roar of The Librarians doing what they do best.
Over the course of the presentation, they also heard of the forthcoming additions to our Art of the Novella series—At the Bay by Katherine Mansfield; The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft; and Billy Buddy, Sailor by some literary upstart named Herman Melville. They learned of the latest entrants into our Last Interview Series: J.D. Salinger, Oliver Sacks, and David Bowie. And they learned about the magnum opus of Madeline Bourdouxhe, namely La Femme de Gilles, a forgotten anti-Nazi feminist classic, coming soon to the Neversink Library.
They met Michelle Pretorious, author of The Monster’s Daughter, and Ingrid Burrington, author of Networks of New York, via video. And they met Sady Doyle, author of Trainwreck, in person. She began: “She’s everywhere once you start looking for her: the trainwreck.”
Later, having passed around some wine, I found the audacity to quiz our guests on our Last Interview series (I provided a quote and asked who, of two, was the author of the provided quote), they responded in kindly and good humor. Nora Ephron! they shouted. Jane Jacobs! Hannah Arendt! Borges! No, that’s Bolaño! Wait, Bolaño said that? Yes, Bolaño. Pencils down. Hand in your quizzes. Winners left with a Last Interview of their choosing.
Following the presentation, we all cooled down over seltzer and conversation. We talked books. The Librarians loaded up on galleys and said their goodbyes. Before we knew it, they were gone. It was, in short, the best of times. Thank you, Librarians, for coming—and thank you, Librarians everywhere. Jokes aside, we’re tremendously grateful for the service you provide.
A tall man in a sweater asks, “Who said it: Lou Reed or Ernest Hemingway?”
The Galley Buffet. None left hungry.
Publisher Dennis Johnson introduces The Anatomy of Inequality.
Editor Taylor Sperry on Glaxo. Librarians on the edges of their seats.
Publisher Valerie Merians on the latest from Žižek. Yes, that Žižek.
Editor Ryan Harrington on Nato Thompson’s Culture as Weapon: “What do the U.S. military and 2 Live Crew have in common?”
One attendee’s galley cup runningeth over-eth.
To learn more about librarian outreach at Melville House, email [email protected].
Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.