July 14, 2004
As you run your fingers across the spines of books on the shelves, keep in mind that William Faulkner once lived in the building. In fact, he wrote his first novel here in 1925. (He considered himself a poet before he moved to New Orleans, and he had already published a poetry collection before he started writing fiction.)
For those of you who were asleep during your high school English classes, Faulkner is considered one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. He won Pulitzers for two of his novels, and then received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1949 (a Pulitzer recognizes the greatness in an individual work. The Nobel recognizes the greatness in a body of work).
Now the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society hosts a literary festival each year to encourage new authors. Knowing this, it was even more important for me to patronize the bookstore.
The range of books actually packs a pretty big whollop considering the store is basically one small room. If there are more customers than you and the guy behind the counter, it can feel a little crowded! Something special, however, awaits book collectors in the narrow hall to right of the main room. Here in locked glass cases are rare first edition hardbacks. Some are signed. Ask for help to look at a specific title.
As soon as I saw it, I considered buying Joseph Heller's Catch 22 for my husband because it is his favorite book. However, the $800 (!) price tag was a bit much for my wallet. If I'd had that much cash-o-la though, I would have gotten it. Unlike other things that people collect---coins, stamps, vintage posters of Elvis---books to me never seem to collect dust. The written word is a sacred thing: an idea caught in ink. I can think of few things more precious to own.
I also enjoyed looking at a first edition of Lolita. It wasn't signed by Nabokov (Can you imagine what that would be worth?), but it had an interesting twist for the lover of both books and film. Each of the cast members of the fairly recent Lolita movie--a fine fllick, I think--had signed the title page....
So what did I buy? Well, regular, run-o'-the-mill paperback copies of The Sound and the Fury ($10.95) and As I Lay Dying ($11.95), which seemed like fitting purchases to me.
From journal Haunted New Orleans