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Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of Greenlight Bookstore’s opening, so they had a party to mark the occasion. What’s a party in a bookstore look like? Well, the lights were up all the way, so don’t expect anything to get “freaky” with your “bump and grind.” But there was champagne! And, more importantly (for me), there were cupcakes and brownies! Also in attendance were Veggie Platters, Hummus, and Bread. Akashic Books’ Johnny Temple DJd with real records, playing such things as reggae and A Tribe Called Quest.
1. Zalykha & Alex, who live in Williamsburg but were in the area and decided to stop in for the party. 2. Pitchaya Subdonthad, Nathan Ihara (from Melville House), Casey Walker, Caren Thomson, & Brittany Banta. They are all in a top secret, Illuminati-style book club. SHHHHHHH.
We mingled and indulged in champagne and chocolate for about an hour. Then the “performance” section of the party began. First, we learned about new additions for the store, such as the very first Greenlight-branded merch (totebags), and that things like book clubs (hopefully Illuminati-style!) and a new website — complete with an e-commerce section — are in the works. After, the booksellers read toasts written by famous authors, including Jhumpa Lahiri, the totally WILFy Joshua Ferris, Jennifer Egan, and David Mitchell. Jonathan Lethem’s toast rhymed and discussed drinking tall boys (probs of PBR — what a whipster [writer-hipster]). Rick Moody talked about his allegiance to AA (so much for the second A), and the bookseller introduced it by saying something about a Port-A-Potty head. Three booksellers read Gary Shteyngart’s toast in chorus, and they did it with faux Russian accents, so I pretty much had no idea what they were saying.
1. Paul Holdengräber of the New York Public Library, and George Prochnik, author of In Pursuit of Silence. 2. The fabulously stylish Eboni Hogan, Jon Sands, & Syreeta McFadden, who is the managing editor of Union Station Mag. All three of them are poets, so watch out!!!
Finally, we got to hear from Johnny Temple, who said that it is NOT a gloomy time in publishing. He reminded us of the “good ole days,” when you could only be published if you were white. And male. And straight. Paul Holdengräber spoke last, and discussed his disease (bibliomania) and its symptoms (which include owning over 16,000 lbs of books). He encouraged us all to buy books, because without our support stores like Greenlight would not exist. He wrapped up his talk with a quote from Jorge Luis Borges, who said he imagines “Paradise will be a kind of library.”
Inspired, the crowd all rushed to the check out to purchase books, a sign of their collective bibliomania.
–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.