March 15, 2011

Strand employees cutest, smartest, and most unwilling


Fresh off being declared “rather attractive” by The Gothamist, Strand bookstore employees have been called out for their literary knowledge and quick wit in The New York Times “Metropolitan Diary.” Jan Carr writes:

My son needed a copy of a short story for a school assignment. I called the Strand Book Store and was connected to the search department. “Can you check a title for me?” I asked.

“What is it?”

“ ’Bartleby, the Scrivener’ by Herman Melville.”

“I would prefer not to,” said the voice on the other end of the phone.

I was struck dumb. Wasn’t this the search department? Wasn’t it this guy’s job to check titles?

After realizing the literary joke, Carr writes that the clever book clerk, “evoked the tension of the story, giving me the same experience as the narrator, puzzling out how to deal with the mystifying clerk.”

We can’t help but mention that Melville House now sells tote bags printed with Bartleby’s famously defiant phrase. And if you haven’t read the novellas itself, check out this deal where you get a dozen “Art of the Novella” titles and a tote bag, including Bartleby the Scrivener.