Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gonzalo Barr

Twenty-five years ago, I was a bookseller. From August through December 1982, I was assistant manager of a bookstore on Miracle Mile that no longer exists. Books & Books opened a couple of blocks away. From the first time I went there, I was struck by the wood floors, the tall ceilings, the light. I introduced myself to a fellow behind the cashier. After small talk, we agreed to refer customers to each other, people who requested books we didn’t carry. We even shook on it.
He lived up to his end of the bargain. Soon, I had people coming in and asking for the kind of books that no self-respecting bookseller would carry.
So I had to reciprocate.
One day, a little old lady walked into my store and declared, “I’m looking for a book.”
“Do you know the title?” I asked her.
“No,” she said.
“How about the author?”
“What about the cover?”
“Red,” she said. “Little.”
We had one copy of Mao’s little red book, but I didn’t mention it.
“I’m sorry...” I started to say. Then it came to me: my chance to reciprocate.
I asked her, “Have you tried Books & Books?”

Gonzalo Barr

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