Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Paul Lazarus

It is impossible, of course, to separate the store (now stores) from Mitch Kaplan. His contribution to Florida authors, basic literacy and standing in the international book market is a remarkable achievement. For a reader to walk in and inquire about a book is a throwback to the days when booksellers actually read the works on their shelves. Nowadays, readers are lucky if the sales staff can pronounce the author or the title.

In my 20 years in Miami, I have often been tapped by Mitch to interview Hollywood figures who penned their memories and their words of wisdom. While there was certainly much to be said about spending time with Isabella Rossellini or Faye Dunaway, for me, the real treat was hanging out with Mitch.

He nurtured my writing career, as he did so many others, affording me the chance to do evenings in the Coral Gables emporium. When the First Amendment appeared under attack a few years back, he was a willing advocate when we took our concerns to the publisher of the Herald.

Forgetting basic questions of religious background, when and if the time arrives to have literary figures canonized, Mitchell Kaplan is my nominee.

Paul Lazarus

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