Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books


My bookstore haul days are limited, now that Firecracker and I share a modest apartment. Despite my admiration for the ease of e-books- I wish every new book gave you an e-book download code, like many music and movies do- I love books for their design elements and other physical qualities that add up to more than the sum of their parts. I’d line the walls with shelves full of them if I could.

I visited Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books on a walk through the West Village with Zak Mucha last week. They mostly sell remainders of class-conscious tomes, lots of books on Blake, Bob Dylan, President Obama, and so on. I picked up an art book of The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige to give me some visual inspiration for the short novel I am writing, which is set partially in Japan. I also snagged a box of greeting cards printed with portions of M.C. Escher’s mural “Metamorphosis.” I’ve always been fascinated with woodcuts, and Escher was my introduction to them. At the register, there was a stack of postcards with William Blake’s “The Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun,” which played a big part in one of my favorite novels, Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. For me, it was the first serial killer novel that delved into how we make our own monsters, treating him with sympathy but also firm in showing that true psychopaths cannot be rehabilitated, because they like what they do.

So that was my haul, for twenty bucks. Not bad. An interesting little book shop with a nice selection of books you might not find in a chain store, at bargain prices.

My Local – Watchung Booksellers

The death of the independent bookstore has been greatly exaggerated.

Some are having hard times, and some are closing. But imagine my surprise when I walked into my local, the excellent Watchung Booksellers, and found that they will be closing next week.


Now, that’s the kind of news a writer and a book lover finds joyful. I’ve known the bookmongers and proprietors for nearly twenty years, and they run a great shop with a sprawling children’s section, a meaty mystery department, and they’ve had everyone from Jenny Milchman and Dennis Tafoya to the one and only Lawrence Block signing and speaking there. All in a very efficiently used, and to dip into realtor parlance, charming and cozy space.

It’s a small store. I’ve been in smaller bookshops, but I can’t recall them, and I think they’re all in bookstore heaven now. So I am thrilled to see them taking over space from next door and embiggening themselves.

I stopped in to pick up Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, on the urgent recommendation of Matthew Funk, and snagged Night Soldiers by Alan Furst, after hearing about his ambitious series of linked novels set in the run-up to the Second World War. They have impeccable taste- meaning they carry books I love by friends and other authors I admire- and they’ve sold a few copies of the Lost Children Anthology, which is available from them locally and via mail order, if you like supporting indie bookstores.