Bookselling, battleships and bookmen

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

*** The new issue of ILAM has posted, the best mystery/thriller review site on the internet, mostly because my reviews are featured there. What’s that you say? Why, yes, it’s true, I am a humble man. Some truly great books are reviewed in this issue and the editor, Sally, does her usual fantastic job, although my photo is still not used as part of the sites’ official logo. Which is probably smart.


*** Okay, I get it. Normal folk don’t get excited by histories of ships that were sunk more than 65 years ago, at Pearl Harbor, no less. But I do. What that says about me I ‘m afraid to ask.

As a boy these sorts of books were coming out all the time, but now, with timing passing, it’s infrequent. So I note the publication of Battleship Oklahoma BB-37 by Jeff Phister with Thomas Hone and Paul Goodyear, University of Oklahoma Press, with excitement and sadness, knowing such books will be unlikely in the future. Oklahoma was docked outboard on December 7, 1941, and rolled over (turned turtle in the parlance of the day) after being torpedoed on her starboard side. Hundreds were trapped below decks, some were rescued by cutting holes in the ship’s bottom, some weren’t. Eventually she was re-floated and was being towed mainland when she sunk in the open ocean.

New history of the USS Oklahoma

*** Laura Bush has signed a book deal to publish her memoirs, including her time in the White House. Whatever you may think of her husband, love him or hate him, Laura was and is one great lady. It is thanks for her that we have the annual Washington D.C. Book Fair, she has always been a friend to readers and writers and I wish her all the best.

Laura signs for the big bucks

*** I don’t know O.J. Brisky, but I have a feeling that I would like him if I met him. He runs my kind of bookstore in my kind of climate: warm and sunny Florida. If I get the chance I’m going to have to drop in and pay him a visit.

A Florida book man

*** We have all been reading about bookstores closing for a while now, and while that is always a sad thing it doesn’t really hit home until it happens to a store we know. And so it’s with ennui that I mention the closing of a London bookstore that I have actually visited, Murder One on Charing Cross Road. The story goes like this:

On our first trip to England our tour group had the world’s most incompetent guide. For a variety of reasons, BBG and Mrs. BBG found themselves wandering London on Holy Saturday. With Easter next day, most shops were closing up. About 4 pm, having absolutely no idea where we were, we exited a tube station at Charing Cross Road and I observed, like a vision from Heaven, shop after shop with the neat little sign ‘Books’ out front. Most were about to close and we were leaving London first thing Sunday morning. Aaaieee!

Frantically shopping at a dead run, the one shop that did NOT close at 5 pm was Murder One. I’ll never forget wandering the shop, marveling at all of the British editions of favorite authors, wondering just how much room I had in my suitcase for books. (In the end, I crammed 56 hardbacks into my two suitcases, both of which weighed about 80 lbs. Fortunately, this was before weight limits and surcharges.) I wound up buying a number of books there and wishing I could afford/carry more.

And now it’s closing. One more life event faded to memory, never to be relived.

Another good one bites the dust

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