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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Corey Mesler & The-Fall-from-Paradise Interview, etc.


On Tuesday, May 23, you may read COREY MESLER
at Sue Henderson’s PublishersMarketplace blog. In it, “Marly Youmans talks to writer and bookseller Corey Mesler about the golden age of bookselling, his more than 30 years in the business, 9/11, the internet, book-browsing, Memphis, human nature, Fredric Koeppel, love, and destiny.”

This one will be a funny and sad interview, well worth perusing for book lovers. It has already made one reader "tear up," though only one reader has read it so far... See the little guys at the independents tilt (and sometimes fall) against the big guys.

These days, writers can't afford to ignore the behemoths of chain and online bookstores, but we really hate to see an independent bookseller lying wounded and bleeding by the side of the road. Let's keep some places where bookstores are governed by a local bookseller's passion, where local writers are supported by community, and where good books stay on the shelves after the "3-month window" (probably down to 2 by now!) for a new book closes.

Here’s a sample clip:

Last week I wrote, “Besides, you have to love a guy like Corey Mesler who would be so astonishingly foolhardy as to be a poet, a short story writer, a novelist, and a bookseller. That's somebody living on the front quad of risk! Then there's Cheryl, bookseller, mother of two, spouse-of-Corey: undoubtedly among the intrepid of this world.” It seems just as true this week. Despite Walmart and bookstore chains and web stores, you both go on striving to make a little world that words in good order and people can inhabit together. In the face of havoc and hard times, can you say something about why you chose such a life—why you choose it still?

It chose me. When I was 18, a mooncalf, a dope, I didn’t know anything about books. I didn’t even know that they came out in hardback and then a year later in paperback. I didn’t know Updike from Upjohn. I didn’t know Proust rhymed with roost. So, why was I led to apply at my neighborhood Waldenbooks? God thumped me on the back of the head, and said, here, mooncalf, here is your destiny.

Oh, and, thanks for the love.


For those who ordered Raven Mockers during the promotion: the Ravens are still flying from the nest! I know, I know, but I ran out of cute little boxes! I suppose one has to suffer a bit for a bargain--at least, if it's my bargain.

I got punchy doing inscriptions and wrote James Simpson some hortative doggerel from the Witchmaster on his book. Jim, you have a unique copy! As for the rest of you readers (and sometimes budding writers), you may find all kinds of weird things (feathers! eggs in nests! ridiculous comments!) on yours if I inscribed it on Friday night. Afterward I dropped into bed at precisely 2:00 a.m. and dreamed of the Palace. (Okay, that's a fiction. I didn’t, so far as I know, but it sounds right. Might've.)


Something marvelous has happened in the book world. N, age 8, has fallen utterly in love with a book. He found it in the ongoing Library Sale box at Huntington Library in Oneonta, and it is--drum roll, ta da! and confetti--Marjorie Cowley's Dar and the Spear-Thrower (Clarion Books, 1994), a novel about a Cro-Magnon boy living in southeastern France some 15,000 years ago. He checks traps, climbs for healing plants, receives the tribal mark of manhood, meets a stranger, ventures to another tribe, learns to carve and use a spear thrower, and makes peace with a difficult uncle. And one little boy is deep in the wonders and perils of the past.

Now that's magic.



  1. As I said on my blog, N is a person of true refinement and taste. Pat yourself on the back, Madame M. (I've just now gotten over being furious with you for letting E. die. Catherwood ends most satisfactorily, in spite of many proto-indications to the contrary. Have started Raven Mockers, since I'd already ordered a copy from another source before you announced your blue light special. 'Blue light,' get it?

  2. You are certainly pigging out on my books. That's number three, isn't it?

    N. and I have finished the world's most adorable Recycle Tiger, with a large Hawaiian Punch bottle bottle for body, deep pie plate for face, laundry detergent caps for legs, etc. With lots of cunning hand-painted detail from N. And the habitat is next. Meanwhile, Theodora and Lady Azure came and inspected R. T. Seemed impressed.

    Now we are all watching "Grave of the Fireflies"--or will be, in a minute.

    I tried to keep E. alive but it was no use. The world is a big, cold, hard place, and she was very small. E. looks like R. did, once upon a time.

  3. Thanks in advance, M, for the inscribed exhortation. The book progresses slowly as I've been living in Woodrow Wilson-era Solsville and Ithaca, NY for the past few weeks.

  4. Ah, you're not all that far away! Give me a call if you whirl through Cooperstown in search of baseball inspiration...

  5. Living the life of the mind that is (I haven't left Georgia). I'm finished a section that takes place between 1919-1921, including some Cornellian lore, hence Ithaca.

  6. Small duh! moment: I knew you weren't really a time traveler!

  7. 3/4 of the way through Raven Mocker and have the Civil War one waiting, also Ingledove. Gosh, I hope I've got the titles right. It's early, still dark outside and have only had 1/2 cup of coffee.
    And the glass is 1/2 full, speaking of fractions, as we evidently were.

  8. Nothing like a visitor who is reading one's books. They were no doubt sulking and feeling like "flowers that bloom unseen," when you came along and picked them. Or maybe they were wallflowers and you asked them to dance! Thanks.

  9. Visitors all, both those whose names I've learned and those who slip quietly through on silent feet, without leaving a card--

    Sue Henderson reports that she's getting mail about Corey and independent bookselling, so please hop over and check out the interview.

    You can send her 'blog mail,' or if you click on the link below the interview (to "yesterday's blog post"), you land in her myspace account. And that appears to be where she keeps archives, including today's interview--and that's also a place where you can leave a comment.

    I hope you like it...

  10. J. and I received our Raven Mockers! Voracious reader J. is enthralled by the very unique story, learning about the construction of a well-crafted story, and I am trying to adhere to the "page-a-day" hortatory inscription ... you made me laugh out loud, you really did: " woven hair ... in vestments rare ... in Tupperware"? Too much. The page-a-day seems attainable now that I've learned Updike strives for three!

    Thanks very much.


  11. And interesting to see you've mentioned Susan Henderson. I "know" her (in an online fashion) from Zoetrope -- we've workshopped each other's stories there.

  12. Ah, well, you surely have one of the weirdest, rarest inscriptions in the universe... Just adhere to its spirit, and you will magically be transformed into a published writer in danger of cutting his nose as he sniffs his first, precious book!

    Greetings to J., Jim--I hope she enjoys it to the last page. My R. has read it a ridiculous number of times, so the in-house critic was satisfied.

    The web is so odd, isn't it? All these connections between groups of people, thread by thread. Sue found me somehow and suggested that interview. So now it's out there in the world. Corey does wonderful, amusing interviews.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.