About a year ago, I posted an account of a book shopping trip to a couple of bookstores in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn. The most notable was Book Court, a spacious bookstore, well-stocked in quality fiction, but there was another store that also left an impression:
"A few blocks from Book Court is The Community Bookstore, which had not opened for the day. Looking through the store window, I must admit, was a little intimidating. My only thought was that this is what happens to books that are tossed in the dumpster."
Well, The Community Bookstore is now closing after three decades of business. The New Yorker posted a short video about the owner John Scioli and the store's impending departure. I watched this feature a couple of times with mixed feelings.
At first, it reinforced my longtime belief that "Book Lovers Are Not Necessarily People Lovers." I have been in stores like Scioli's -- "curated" by a crusty owner--- but it's not the unfriendly attitude that bothers me as much as the clutter. We're not talking a few unshelved books here, we're talking a stack of books crashing down on your head (which happens more than once in the video). Even more frightening is seeing Scioli smoking in the stacks. The whole place could ignite into one blaze of word and flame -- kind of like the famous scene in the movie Fahrenheit 451 (1966) when Montag torches the house of a woman who has a huge collection of books.
My lasting impression from the video is not the sadness of another bookstore closing, but the wistful comments from a young woman who said, "I feel like it's the responsibility of the next generation to make things like this happen. We can't expect them to stick around forever."
Who will lead that next generation of ornery book hoarders? If I am not careful, it could be me.