Saturday, May 1, 2010
Curbside Book Store
At W181st street the road curves down a steep hill toward the Hudson. Midway down the hill and across from Cabrini Wines, a Dominican man sells books every day except Sundays and when it rains. His books always flank the sidewalk in orderly columns, tantalizing me with stories of far off places. Curbside books stores dot Manhattan, but this one's my favorite. It's different from the others. For one, the books are $1 each. Hard to find a better bargain. For another, the man sells quality: Shakespeare, Ibsen, Charlotte Bronte, Gore Vidal, Joseph Conrad. Most of the other sidewalk booksellers have sold out to mass market NY Times best sellers, the same weepy story packaged under eye catching covers. But the man peddling Shakespeare on W181st St is my hero of the day. I can't say what accounts for the difference in inventory-- maybe the population up here feels less pressure to keep up with the Joneses? Today, the Pooch and I had finished our run (we are geting back into shape-- he laid down and refused to go any farther. He had put in a good effort so I gave in). We trudged up 181st. I had a few dollars in my pocket destined for the bookseller. While Pooch panted for dear life, I bought two books by Graham Greene, "Songlines" by Bruce Chatwin, and "The Year of Living Dangerously" by Christopher Koch. Now we will go into the Heather Garden, find a shady tree, and read until sunset. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday.