Miami in 1982 was not New York in 1982. There were few coffee shops, fewer punk bars, and for a college kid, it was a cultural Sahara. The only oasis was this small independent bookshop and the guy who owned it. It gave me reason to stick around Miami. It gave me hope.
Fast-forward a quarter of a century, and Books and Books is still independent but no longer small, you can buy a great cup of coffee right here along with everything from bestsellers to Borges, and the store’s owner is a cultural force of nature. It’s hard to think of Miami now without thinking of its hallmark literary event, Miami Book Fair International. I came the very first year, when it was just a little patch along Biscayne Boulevard. It’s now the biggest, best book fair in the country and Mitchell is the guy who made it happen.
It is not always fun, getting older, but I’ve loved growing up with Books and Books. It embodies everything I want for Miami, my hometown – it’s vibrant, it’s diverse, it’s a place where everyone can gather, where anyone can call home. Now if Mitchell could only do something about the punk bars.