We have to pass on this essay from Brian Doyle commemorating Broadway Books’ 20th anniversary. It was made into a broadside by Letterary Press, and it’s pretty wonderful, a tribute to all indie bookstores, really.
Broadway Books’ co-owner Sally McPherson tells us the store’s celebration Sunday was fabulous—that they were “mobbed all day long—sort of our own self-generated cash mob!”
She writes: “Lots of our long-time faithful customers were in attendance, as well as a few newbies who wandered in and wondered what the heck was going on. We had many local authors stop by, including Molly Gloss, Lidia Yuknavitch, George Wright, Kristy Athens, Peter Carlin, Judith Arcana—and I’m sure a few more who slipped my mind in all of the hoopla—as well as some local publishers, including Tom Booth from OSU Press and Rhonda Hughes from Hawthorne Books . . . It was truly a celebration of all things local!”
Here’s the Doyle piece:
Twenty Years of Broadway Books
I was in my favorite independent bookstore in Oregon recently, pawing through the produce and surreptitiously looking to see if the proprietresses had left any unattended cookies, when I had A Roaring Epiphany. I realized that the store was a village green for ideas. A story-common. A crossroads for voices and songs and debates and memories. A chapel filled with ink. A pub without beer, mostly. I have seen dogs reading graphic novels there. I have seen people laugh and weep. I have seen people hug the proprietresses when said proprietresses found or suggested Exactly the Right Book for the left-handed Samoan-American boxing-maniac great-grandmother with a Sarah Palin tattoo on one bicep and Dave Eggers on the other. I have heard poets chant there. I have heard small children reading aloud, the coolest sound in the world. I have heard nutty essayists shouting and telling lewd stories with high glee and burble. I have seen a child buy a book and sit down on the floor and start reading it immediately. I have seen young people read their own work aloud for the first time in their whole blessed lives. I have seen the proprietresses work twelve hours a day. They have worked awfully hard for inconsiderable coin for twenty years. They are story ambassadors. They are hope agents. They are imagineers and dream-merchants. They embrace technology and figure how to dance with it. They are word-shepherds and story-savers. They do brave crucial nutritious amazing necessary holy work. If no one savored and treasured and bought and sold and swapped and talked and argued about books in little cool energetic flavorful cheerful clean entertaining bookstores owned by the people who run them then we would starve for all sorts of lost books and stories and we would have only stories yelled at us from screens and stories sold to us by cold pollsters and that would be a reduction and dilution of the nation and species we are. If we did not have independent bookstores we would be even more herded prey to the most brilliant marketers among us than we are now and that would be a great shame. We do not publicly laud and shout our praise for the crucial work of independent booksellers as much as we should. But today I will. Today, after twenty years of Broadway Books, I take the rare chance of speaking for my fellow writers, and my fellow readers, and my fellow citizens, when I say hey, Broadway Books, thanks, and hey, cheerful brave proprietresses, thanks, for your hard work, and brave insistence on story, and witty generosity, and the cookies. Well done. Very well done. Is there any more beer?
Brian Doyle, who wrote the above, is a Portland author who has many times been allowed to chant, sing, shout, mutter, mumble, burble, stutter, shamble, amble, grumble, stammer, shout, whisper, guffaw, and giggle in the friendly confines of Broadway Books, in Portland, Oregon, long may it wave.