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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Unexpected treasure

Roy Peter Clark from Poynter has a great piece about colorful news writing titled, "The Best News Stories of 1923." I'm even more delighted that he unearthed these gems at an antiquarian book store. Could there be anything finer that discovering such a treasure?

I can think of no better place to spend an afternoon than in an antiquarian book store. I spent an entire day, I mean at least six hours, in Faulkner House Books in the French Quarter back in 1997. My husband was at the SuperComm Trade Show and I was free to roam this literary city. Talk about heaven! As I was leaving him at the corner of Canal and Chartres, I remember him saying something to me about the creeps in the quarter, and then I turned 'round and he said, "Nevermind. Have fun–but be careful!" I'm an independent gal and he knows there's no stopping me when my mind is set.

Faulkner House Books is located in Pirate's Alley, opposite St. Louis Cathedral's rear garden. It's the home where William Faulkner slept, ate, drank, partied, fell in love on the balcony, wrote letters, gathered inspiration and, most importantly, became a novelist. It's a national literary landmark that features a great assortment of southern fiction and special editions, but also has a good deal of Sherwood Anderson special editions. Faulkner only lived there for one year (1925), but by the time he left, he had published "Soldier's Pay," and was on his way to becoming one of America's most famous novelist.

While I was there, I picked up a copy of his short stories, a big collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories and a limited edition of "Jane Eyre," one of my all-time favorites. I could have spent so much more, but I was under strict orders with the AMEX.

One of the greatest experiences was spending the day engaged in a fascinating literary discussion with owner, Joe DeSalvo and one of his wealthy collector customers (a doctor from Baton Rouge). We sat and talked about books and authors and collecting for hour after hour. Afterwards, I sat in Jackson Park and read Faulkner's short stories in the heat of the June sun, just trying to soak up the literary atmosphere of this intoxicating town. The air there is heavy and not just with humidity.

As the great Dr. John sings, "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?" Indeed, I do.

Here's hoping you find your treasure!

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