Posted by: Lizzie Ross | May 11, 2010

Cute-button, part 2

The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley (1919), Lippincott, 253 pp.

The sequel to Parnassus on Wheels moves away from Helen McGill to focus on three other characters–Roger Mifflin, now a second-hand bookseller in Brooklyn, and a young man and woman who meet cute in the bookshop and progress from there.

There are some mysterious shenanigans with a copy of Carlyle’s Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches, some anti-war harangues by Mifflin (with great hope for the future as Wilson heads to the peace talks in Europe), and tons of references to high and low literature. Mifflin thinks that good books can make a peaceful world, but 100 years later we can see how well that’s worked out. Although, I have to admit, the past century doesn’t actually disprove Mifflin’s argument. He’d say people just still haven’t read enough of the books that would make the difference.

This is absolutely a bibliophile’s story, with book titles appearing on nearly every page. They make you want to run to your shelves and pull down stuff you’ve been meaning to get into for years.

Half of one chapter early in the book is a conversation among booksellers, wherein they argue the purposes of bookstores. Mifflin, of course, disagrees with anyone who says it’s just a business, to be run for profit, and it doesn’t matter what tripe you sell, as long as you make a profit.

But Mifflin (and, by association, Morley) is a snob. He disdains Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan stories. What would he think of the fantasy and science fiction writing of today?

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  1. […] Cute-button, &#1088&#1072rt 2 « Th&#1077 Ineluctable Bookshelf […]


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