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The Bookseller and Other Stories, Second Edition
SOME MEN STEAL BOOKS WHILE OTHERS WONDER WHY THEY BOTHER
Five stories about professors, students, librarians, booksellers, and early scientific explorers—all living literately, on journeys of the mind. The first story, “One of Our Stars,” is about a professor so engrossed in difficult studies that even a blatant sexual invitation (accepted) merely distracts him. He concentrates with the mental force of a chess grandmaster, a zen roshi, or a musical virtuoso. The next story about a female college student is set in a Colombian jungle. The third story portrays a once formidable professor coming to terms with retirement, old age, and approaching death. The fourth (title) story, novella length, takes place in an Ecuadorian library that is experiencing rampant theft. A place where some men steal books while others wonder why they bother. A literary, intellectual mystery that explores the library as a profound idea while the world rushes into a digital, post-literate future. The fifth story explores the evolving status and influence of a beautiful young female scholar who each year attends a Latin American Librarians Conference.
The Best-Read Man in France
Michael Ashe, an antiquarian bookseller in Los Angeles, suddenly finds his business in decline. Even librarians have turned their backs on books, while pouring money into electronic resources. But Ashe refuses to admit defeat. He continues the hunt for rare tomes in Mexico City and Paris, while struggling with his loneliness and searching for a woman to love. Then he learns the startling story of "the best-read man in France." This epiphany leads him into a public battle to save the life of the book itself.
This cautionary tale about the demise of the printed book, the decline of reading, and the conflict of print and digital culture, represents a progress report on our drift toward the chilling world of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Read it while you still can—before more books are "disappeared!"
Reading the Map of Knowledge
In 2010 Google Books estimated that 130,000,000 books had been published in modern history. That's individual titles, not copies. Faced with this mind-bending fact, what is a reader to do? Just throw in the towel? The situation seems hopeless. This was the question the author set out to answer. His book might also have been titled "A Librarian's Guide for the Perplexed." Short but potent, it consists of three essays: "On Being Well Read in an Age of Information Overload," "Rings of Knowledge: Another Way of Seeing the Library," and "On Being Worthy of the Name."
"It is a novel about being forty, a terrible age for a man just as for a woman: one is still young, but one knows perfectly well that things can no longer be put off until tomorrow. Thus many forty-year old men suddenly have an appetite for life much greater than twenty-year old boys who live in the illusion that their youth will never end."—Jacques Brenner, Histoire de la littérature française de 1940 à nos jours.
Mexico at the Hour of Combat
Peter Briscoe acquired the Sabino Osuna photographs of the Mexican Revolution for the University of California, Riverside Library in 1986, extensively researched them, and contributed an essay, "The Story of an Acquisition," to the volume.
The 427 glass-plate and film negatives of the collection cover primarily the early years of the Revolution, in particular the Decena Trágica, the ten days in February 1913 in which the Madero government was overthrown and the old order briefly restored. The images are not only historically important but photographically impressive, and a number of them are works of art. They are placed in context and illuminated by essays by Ronald H. Chilcote, Eliud Martinez, Tyler Stallings, Carlos Cortés, Georg M. Gugelberger, and Peter Briscoe.