Good morning bookies! Happy Labor Day weekend to you all. The entire staff here at want to wish you and yours the very best of this first weekend of fall and football. Yeah, I know, it’s not really fall yet. And I get that not everybody is wild about football starting up. Given that both are a given, though, you might as well celebrate what you cannot stop.

*** The new ILAM is posted. That’s right, all new mystery and crime fiction reviews from the finest stable of reviewers on the net, chiefly because your friendly neighborhood bookseller is one of them. Find the David Liss line and read my review of The Whiskey Rebels.

*** The sprawling, globe-spanning conflict that was World War II has become an endless source of books feeding a public’s almost insatiable hunger for something new, something comprehensible, something that can explain what the hell happened. The war itself is so huge it’s nearly impossible to wrap your brain around it, so the smaller, less visible elements are often overlooked. So it was with England’s war-within-a-war with Vichy France. Other than buffs, who knew that in the summer of 1940 the Royal Navy and the French Navy fought a major battle in which more than 1200 Frenchmen died, mere weeks after the two had been close allies? Or that the Battle at Mers-el-Kebir would prove pivotal in convincing FDR that England meant to stay the course of war against Germany and so proved itself worthy of support?

Well, for those who want to focus on this last time the French and English fought each other, probably (and hopefully) for good, Colin Wilson’s new book England’s Last War Against France: Fighting Vichy 1940-1942, seems a great choice. Even today it explains much. And it should never be forgotten that however much the French re-wrote history after the war was won, a lot of Frenchmen were happy enough to knuckle under to the Germans in the beginning.

After the alliance, the English and French were not so kissy-kissy anymore

*** As you might expect the global economic downturn is battering writers the same as everyone else. It appears that publishers are rejecting manuscripts from known writers, manuscripts for which they have contracts, on the nebulous grounds of inferior quality. Being totally subjective this is pretty hard to contest. One would think, though, that the day will come when some of the better known writers will be sought after again and might harbor a grudge against the editors who bailed on then when things got bad. We’ll see.

Publishers reneging on deals

*** Coming soon to a bookstore near you, and not one of those with the little rooms and coin-operated video players, either, is a new book on the single most popular subject in the history of publishing: sex. Apparently this is in the vein of easy to read stories and anecdotes as opposed to erotica. Let’s hope it’s not another Masters & Johnson, or Kinsey Report. I mean, one can just as well hang wallpaper as read those. Not that I have, mind you, but I’ve read reviews.

New how-to manual for…well, you know

*** And finally, a rant from yours truly. I guess everybody knows that I sell books for a living. Thus the moniker of ‘your friendly neighborhood bookseller.’ Get it? Bookseller, sells books? I knew you would. Anyway, to put those books into the hands of my beloved customers I must necessarily use the Post Office. This being the Labor Day weekend the postal service will not operate on Monday. No problem, holiday, all that. But since the post office is losing billions of dollars each year, you would think they would try and make up some of that loss, right?

Not so fast there, pal. This is the government we’re talking about. Yesterday I show up at my post office about 1:45 pm, knowing it closes on Saturdays at 2 pm. But hold! It’s closed. A sign on the door, that was not there Wednesday because I looked, said they had closed at noon because of the holiday. But, but…Saturday isn’t the holiday, Monday is. And is three days off so insufficient that you’ve got to lop off another two hours from what is already the shortest work day of the week? You’re open a lousy 3 hours on Saturday? Why bother?

And so the next time the post office reports a loss it won’t come as a surprise. To make money you have to actually, you know, be open for business and stuff.