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Thursday, February 22, 2018


Here's a link to today's BookWeek!

The news show happens live every Thursday, but the shows remain on demand at the BookWeek Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"Single file to the playground, class. Mindy, you can leave now. You get a head start."

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The 2/22 cover.

Apparently, some blood is more valuable than other.

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Breitbart News:

Journalist and author Mike Cernovich has called on CNN to donate the profits earned from advertisements during coverage of the Parkland school shooting to charity.

“I don’t like what CNN is doing to these children. I think CNN should donate all advertising from the shooting to charity,” Cernovich declared in a live Periscope video Wednesday. “Let’s turn a negative into a positive. I call on everyone here to challenge CNN to donate all advertising revenue generated this week to charity. Will you join me in this?”

“Join me in calling on CNN to donate all advertising revenue received this week, because they should not profit from blood,” he continued. “CNN should not take blood money and take the deaths of these children and turn them into dollar bills. They shouldn’t do it. It’s wrong, it’s unethical.”

Who's Cernovich?

Among other things, a man who, two years ago, tried making his own money off the Pulse nightclub massacre, also in Florida. Politico had a recent backgrounder:

A former lawyer, Cernovich began blogging about gender dynamics, among other topics, in 2004. A year earlier, he had been charged with raping a woman he knew, but the charge was dropped and a judge instead sentenced him to community service for battery. Ever since, Cernovich, now 39, has preached the gospel of masculinity, teaching readers how to become “a dominant man” through mindset adjustments and bodybuilding. He once tweeted “date rape does not exist” and advised readers, in a blog post about household finance, that “Hot girls are better to rent than buy.”

He advocates IQ-testing all immigrants and ending federal funding of universities, and describes himself as an economic nationalist primarily concerned with the welfare of average Americans. He has some economic ideas that veer toward the wonky—he said he would like median GDP to replace GDP growth as the lodestar of economic policy, for instance. As machines displace a greater share of labor, he is intrigued by the possibility of introducing a universal basic income, an idea supported by Martin Luther King Jr., conservative economist Milton Friedman and Bill Clinton’s labor secretary, Robert Reich. Cernovich is also an avid consumer and progenitor of conspiracy theories, such as his claim that there was more than one shooter at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and that the government is covering this up to avoid panic.

Those predilections made him an early Trump supporter, and over the course of the election he shot to internet notoriety by his monomaniacal focus on Hillary Clinton’s allegedly failing health and his online feuds with Trump detractors. He has become huge in the world of pro-Trump Twitter, known as #MAGA Twitter, for Make America Great Again. In October, a Finnish publishing house specializing in science fiction and fantasy released his latest book, MAGA Mindset: Making YOU and America Great Again.

His new plan is to take his brand of self-help from the home to the House by running the “Big Brother” of congressional bids, renting out a five-bedroom campaign pad, living in it with his staff and streaming the whole thing 24/7 on YouTube. There are other plans for the campaign—flash mobs, loyal readers with Go-Pros confronting and humiliating his opponents live on Periscope. “The savagery that I would bring to a campaign would be like nothing anyone had ever seen in a congressional election,” said Cernovich, the day before the birth of his first child, a girl.

That vision is contingent on Cernovich’s congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, vacating his seat to, say, join the Trump administration. If that does not happen, Cernovich still plans to recruit acolytes from across the country to deploy those tactics next year in primary challenges to establishment Republicans, a scheme he has dubbed #Revolution2018. If he can pick off just a handful of incumbents next year, Cernovich believes the entire Republican conference will come to fear, and heed, his movement. “That’s what you learn from—” he said, before catching himself. “I’m going to choose my words carefully, because I don’t want to call it ‘terrorism.’”

For a man who until recently was best known for hawking his self-published books and intentionally offending people on the internet, these are grand designs. And Cernovich acknowledges they’ll require some maturation. To that end, Cernovich has condemned Richard Spencer and disassociated himself from the “alt-right” label, even though he believes the Nazi saluters at his conference were leftist plants sent to make the alt-right look bad. (Spencer himself, it should be noted, rejects this conspiracy theory, as well as Cernovich’s claim that the CIA may be propping him up. “He needs to calm down,” Spencer told me.) The hard-core alt-right, in response, has turned on Cernovich and begun calling him “Cuck-ovich,” a play on the movement’s dreaded “cuckservative” insult.

Cernovich now uses the label “new right” to describe himself. To refute those who lump him in with white nationalists, he pointed to his second wife, Shauna, a secular Muslim of Persian descent, who lounged behind us on a couch and jumped in and out of our conversation. (The non-European partner, for what it’s worth, has become a frequent defense among the more moderate alt-righters: Charles Johnson points to his Asian wife to counter charges of racism; Gavin McInnes points to his Native American wife; Yiannopoulos says he prefers to date black men.) Cernovich’s newborn daughter is named Cyra, after the Persian emperor Cyrus (a stocking with her name on it already hung over the fireplace). When a question arose about the birthplace of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ sidekick Paul Joseph Watson, Cernovich told his wife “Google it.” Then he backtracked. “Will you please Google it? I don’t just bark orders at you.” (“Northern Britain,” she chimed in later.)

Cernovich does not view himself as a “troll” per se, because he views trolling as amoral, but instead refers to himself as a “rhetorician”—a provocateur who doesn’t literally mean what he says. Whatever he calls it, the rhetoric clearly has real-world consequences. He was a chief pusher of the #pizzagate hashtag on Twitter, the wacky conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was part of a child sex trafficking ring being run out of the back of a Washington restaurant called Comet Ping Pong. The scandal began as a rumor on Twitter, jumped to message boards like 4Chan, was pushed by Cernovich and other much higher-profile agitators, and came to be taken quite seriously by some of the internet’s more impressionable users, including the North Carolina man who drove to Washington and fired shots with a real assault rifle at the real pizza joint in a misguided attempt to free the nonexistent sex slaves.

“Right now we’re going from the underdog to the overdog,” Cernovich said. “So I’m still fighting like the underdog. But when I say things, I need to be more careful.”

When we sat down in California, it was a day after the incident, and Cernovich conceded that he had learned some lessons from the fiasco. For example, although he does believe there is an active pedophile ring in Washington that needs to be investigated, he never believed it was based out of Comet. He also claimed he did not know “Pizzagate” implied that specifically. “Right now we’re going from the underdog to the overdog,” he said. “So I’m still fighting like the underdog. But when I say things, I need to be more careful. When I say things like ‘Pizzagate,’ I need to be more clear.”

In the midst of our discussion about Pizzagate, Cernovich’s phone rang, and when he picked it up, the voice on the other end belonged to Mike Flynn Jr., the son of Trump’s pick for national security adviser. Flynn Jr., who had a transition email address and at one point was up for a national security clearance as part of the presidential transition, was also a Pizzagate conpiracy theorist, explicitly endorsing the idea that Comet could plausibly be the center of a Clinton-connected child sex-trafficking operation. Taking the call from Flynn, Cernovich hurried out onto his back patio, shut the sliding door to the living room and paced around for several minutes out back.

The Flynns, father and son, are also big on #MAGA Twitter, and have become fans of Cernovich’s work there. The elder Flynn, who like his son regularly tweets out links to fake news stories, tweeted an endorsement of Cernovich’s Gorilla Mindset book; he has also called Yiannopoulos “one of the most brave people that I’ve ever met.” Cernovich declined to comment on his relationship with the Flynns, or with almost anyone else. He said he avoids knowing the names of people he communicates with, and tries to forget their names if they tell him, in case he is ever subpoenaed. He consciously models his approach to media and politics on “fourth-generation warfare”—that is, insurgency and counterinsurgency, which includes the use of fluid, ad hoc alliances. “Chuck Johnson doesn’t tell me what to do. Milo doesn’t tell me what to do,” he said. “But we talk, and we’re loosely aligned.” He has become more inclined to believe in conspiracies, he told me, now that he is part of one himself.

Always with the wet finger in the air.

Washington (CNN) 2/21/18: President Donald Trump, after listening to a series of emotional stories and pleas to enhance school safety at the White House Wednesday, floated the idea of arming teachers and school staff, an idea that was met with support from many of the attendees.

"If you had a teacher who was adept the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly," he said, stating that schools could arm up to 20% of their teachers to stop "maniacs" who may try and attack them.

"This would be obviously only for people who were very adept at handling a gun, and it would be, it's called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They'd go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone," Trump said. "Gun-free zone to a maniac -- because they're all cowards -- a gun-free zone is 'let's go in and let's attack because bullets aren't coming back at us.' "

Remember Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, born today in 1936.

Billy Graham read the Bible like an insurance policy, riddled by limitations and exclusions.

It's giveaway time!

Here's your chance to win a classic in the book collecting field!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

This Saturday on Rare Book Cafe!

Rare Book Cafe is delighted to invite you to visit with us and’s public relations director, Richard Davies, on our February 24, 2018 program, at 2.30 pm EDT.
There seems to be little Davies has not seen in the book trade. Of what remains, he is like Aristotle: no matter the direction in which we strike, we meet him on the way back. But among the things we’ll be chatting him up on will be the growth of women in bookselling and collecting, and tips on how to do a search in Abe’s vast databases that will get you useful and timely information!
Abebooks is one of the principal sponsors of this year’s Florida Antiquarian Book Fair as well. The vent will be April 20-22 at the fabulous art deco Coliseum in St Petersburg.
Of his career, Davies says:
I joined AbeBooks in 2005. Although I have always loved books and been an avid reader, I realized that my knowledge of books was actually rather limited when I began working with rare booksellers. I work in the marketing department as the company’s PR person so I deal with books and booksellers on a daily basis.

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I am fascinated by the rare and collectible items that are listed for sale each day and the sales that are made each day. By studying these rare books for more than 10 years, I have acquired a reasonably sound knowledge of this business. Of course, AbeBooks is an online marketplace so I never have the books in my hand. I am reliant on the information and images provided by sellers. I also spend many hours on the telephone, listening to what sellers have to say. I try to visit used and rare bookshops when travelling – the most expensive book that I have ever handled was a first edition of Leaves of Grass and I felt scared to touch it. That’s a piece of American history right there.  I recently visited both the New York Public Library and the Morgan Library (which are two blocks apart), and found both places to be amazing. The Morgan had a Gutenberg bible on display – it was the first time I’d ever seen one.
Helping to sell an expensive item on behalf of a seller is a very gratifying experience. I am extremely motivated when I come across things that are truly unique or have immense cultural or historical significance.
I am a former journalist and that background means I am drawn to unusual items. Edith Wharton’s baby rattle takes some beating. Listed for sale in 2015, this was no ordinary rattle. Made from sterling silver, it contained a whistle, was engraved with the word ‘Edith’, and had a red coral teething section.
In 2008, George Bernard Shaw’s Remington Noiseless Portable Typewriter was listed for sale. Imagine typing out a letter on that historic machine. Along the top edge of the guarantee in faded ink, Shaw had written the words ‘Bernard Shaw, Ayot St Lawrence, Welwyn Herts.”’
Truman Capote’s birth certificate is currently for sale at close to $35,000 but that’s relatively affordable compared to Jack Kerouac’s signed original painting of his brother, Gerard. Albert Einstein’s childhood building blocks are still very much useable, but would you want to build castles with something that costs more than $160,000?
John Updike’s senior class high school yearbook is just one of many yearbooks on AbeBooks featuring people of significance… before they were significant. There’s a Bolivian catechism from circa 1850 written on llama skin, a check signed by Edgar Rice Burroughs for a mere 50 cents, and many more highly unusual items that we don’t spot. And there was the time that Eugene O’Neill’s underpants were listed for sale.
All these items are well out of my personal price range but I enjoy finding and buying quirky and unusual books that can be picked up cheaply. Examples would be I Seem To Be a Verb by Buckminster Fuller (a crazy book that shows what today’s Internet would have looked like in the early 1970s) and The Poison Cookbook from Peter Pauper Press.

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I also enjoy reading non-fiction, particularly memoirs and biographies. Travel is one of my favorite genres. I love the writing of Patrick Leigh Fermor, Jan Morris, Eric Newby and Bruce Chatwin. Patrick Leigh Fermor started walking across Europe when he was 18 – that still blows my mind. He walked across Germany as the Nazis were flexing their muscles. How can anyone just walk across a continent? Newby is funny and touching – Love and War in the Apennines is a very, very special book. Chatwin was probably bonkers too – In Patagonia and The Songlines are both remarkable reads. Morris’ book on Oxford – where I lived for many years – is so perceptive.
AbeBooks is thrilled to be one of the sponsors of this year’s Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and I’m sure it’s going to be a great event for visitors and the dealers attending.

Rare Book Cafe is sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. It’s broadcast every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT and features interviews, panel discussion and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs live on Rare Book Cafe’s and the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair’s Facebook page; the Book Fair Blog, and the Book Fairs YouTube channel. Shows are archived on YouTube and can also be viewed on the Facebook pages, and the blog after their first run.
Hosted by Miami book dealer, appraiser and’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, the program features a revolving set of cohosts and regular guests including Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.
Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtually live studio audience for the program, write us at

Today's video program-

Comfort ye, my people-

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Life among the wallflowers.

Laughter's still the best medicine.

An angry little group of gay conservatives that has been trolling me of late has also been romping on Adam Rippon, the outspoken- and out- American Olympic figure skater:

Me? I'm with Rippon. He has a sense of humor:

Sunday, February 18, 2018

He's a Bauer, but he don't know jack

CNN never gets credit for all the conservatives they stack on their panels to give balance and texture to the great issues of the day.

This morning, the star was former SC Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, who says school beatings, gun-laden cars in Sundays, and watching The Andy Griffith world of all-white Mayberry will cure our ills:

Bauer, an aging boy-wonder pol, spent six years in the legislature and eight asking after the governor's health before his career flamed out at 42 with failed bids for governor and Congress.  He peddled the usual hard-right lines, failing to get an "I Believe" license plate for Republican Jesus drivers.

Another time, In January 2010, Bauer came under fire for comparing public school children who receive free lunches to stray animals who should not be fed. "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals," Bauer said during a town hall meeting. "You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't... think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better." Bauer made the comment as part of an argument that people should lose government benefits if they fail drug tests or don't attend parent-teacher conferences or Parent-Teacher Association meetings.The Associated Press reported that Bauer was a child of divorce who benefited from free lunches himself.

Bauer has always positioned himself as a panderer to, and champion of, the old. They are after all the most regular to vote, and to be angry conservatives.

The Andy Griffith Show went off the air the year before Andre Bauer was born.

The dead, of course, have no value exept to pile, clamber up on, and use in a selfie.

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The President wasn't going to let mass murder get in the way of a disco party weekend at Mar-A-Lago, so he and The Mute swung through a Broward County hospital for a quick grip'n grin mug for cameras with the staff combo after telling some survivors how much he cares.

His staff announced he'd forego a round of golf in his grief.

In bed at 11:08 pm last night, amid copies of People and Us, and McDonald's wrappers stuck with bits of processed cheese food, he vented this:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Actually, they done come and gone-

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My member of Congress, Alma Adams, has some prize trolls on Facebook. All white, all angry, and nearly all oblivious to the value of spelling and complete, logical sentences in Making An Effective Case, they were out in force today, on the attack:

Lindsay Thompson: It's fun getting to see the regular #AdamsTrolls up on their hind legs to spew certain knowledge of unknown facts in semiliterate posts.#BlessYourHearts

Justin Potter: Don't just read the headline the story. This is a huge reach for something. No Americans knowingly participated. #AlmaMustGo

John Maze And the Russian trolling has begun.

Vic S. Shahid: Only when the news starts getting really hot on Trump related topics, you start seeing Russian bots like Lisa Wenzel and others get aggressively active with wild claims and distractions. Out local politicians do not receive any such protective cover fire . Their tactics are becoming easy to identify and detect.

Lisa Wenzel: And President Trump has nothing to do with it, and their interference did not affect the outcome of the election!!!

Kristi Rozzelle-Grier: Have reported once that they have not found one ounce of evidence that Trump colluded? Have reported once that there is a ton of one sided bias going on the FBI and DOJ???? Corruption corruption... you should be ashamed and should be asking lots of questions and demanding justice. Its the Dems doing it now... next time it could be the republicans. What will scream then?

David G Stout Jr: And once again they will find it was supported and financed by the lawless Democrats trying to buy the election for Killary!!

Robert Knobel: And they will find that they worked for Obama and Hillary so yes please do that;) love seeing your party drown itself

Steve Sloan: Legalize marijuana

Michael Prater: This article stated Russians ran advertising and marketing campaigns against Hillary Clinton which “helped trump” even though they didn’t run a republican advertisement or campaign. Tons of media outlets do this, why can’t they? Oh because they used fa...See More

Chris Todd: The indictment says the accused tried to spread distrust of certain candidates (Hillary Clinton) and distrust of the political system in general.

Anybody who thinks we needed the Russians to drive up the distrust of our system and of Hillary Clinton is a moron, she and the system did just fine on their own.

I'm looking forward to listening to these know-it-alls explain how the Russian operatives were operating in our back yard:

The Charlotte Observer, February 16, 2018:

Russian conspiracy targeted Charlotte and North Carolina, Mueller indictment says

As the largest city in a pivotal swing state, Charlotte and North Carolina became targets of Russian operatives accused Friday of attempting to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s 37-page indictment charges more than a dozen Russian nationals and businesses of attempting to defraud the United States by using “fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral system, including the presidential election of 2016.”

...Prosecutors say Charlotte and greater North Carolina did not escape the conspiracy. According to the indictment:

▪ @Ten_GOP, a Twitter account started by the Russian conspirators, which at one time attracted more than 100,000 followers, started posting phony allegations in August 2016 that voter-fraud investigations had been launched in North Carolina.

▪ After Donald Trump carried the state and was the surprise winner of the November 2016 election, Russian conspirators posing as grass-roots activists helped arrange a Nov. 19 rally in Charlotte called “Charlotte Against Trump.”

The indictment says similar rallies in support of Trump were staged by the group in other U.S. cities. All were designed to foment discontent throughout the country, the indictment says.

The Charlotte Observer, November 19, 2016:

Anti-Trump protesters in Charlotte seek protection for its ‘vulnerable communities’

Andrew Fede uses a megaphone to talk to attendees at the Charlotte Against Trump rally in Marshall Park on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016.

With President-elect Donald Trump poised to take office in January, local and state officials should take action now to protect North Carolina's “vulnerable communities.”

That was the call from a diverse group of peaceful protesters Saturday, who gathered for a Charlotte Against Trump rally in Marshall Park. With attendees representing black, white, Muslim, immigrant and LGBTQ communities, speakers said their groups are the same ones targeted by Trump during his campaign.

“We believe Donald Trump when he says he's going to build a wall. We believe him when he says he's going to ban Muslims. We believe him when he talks about taking away a woman's right to choose,” said organizer Andrew Fede, one of the founders of Millennials for Hillary and president and founder of a group called Young Professionals and Leaders.

...Anti-Trump protests have cropped up in U.S. cities and internationally since his election on Nov. 8. Charlotte’s version on Saturday drew about 100 people and included speakers and a march from the park to the EpiCentre.

The “cries, fear, shock, disbelief and confusion” many have felt since the election is the result of not paying attention, speaker and Charlotte native Pamela Melissa Thomas said.

“Many residents of Charlotte and North Carolina closed their eyes to the racism that we faced in our state,” she said.

“Wake up...It’s no longer, ‘if we ignore it, it will go away.’ ”

Charlotte attorney Kimberly Owens also urged “reaching out across the aisle” and talking to people who think differently.

“There’s a whole lot of people who saw what they wanted in him,” Owens said “We don’t know that if we close ourselves off.”

Friday, February 16, 2018

Adam Smith's invisible hand has a trigger finger: now we value gun ownership more highly than children.

Canadian artist Pia Guerra memorializes a tragic hero:

How not to raise a snowflake.

Today in 1977: how Anita Bryant became the patron saint of Christian bakers.

Today in 1977, the former Miss America-turned-gay-baiter, Anita Bryant, came face to face with the First Amendment:

Out magazine reminds us:

“At least it was a fruit pie,” Bryant responded before bursting into tears and praying.

Bryant was the public leader for Save Our Children, a political coalition that was against homosexuals and sought to overturn an ordinance that prohibited discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation.

“What these people really want, hidden behind obscure legal phrases, is the legal right to propose to our children that theirs is an acceptable alternate way of life,” Bryant said in 1977. “I will lead such a crusade to stop it as this country has not seen before.”

The gay community retaliated against the campaign by boycotting Florida orange juice, as Bryant was their brand ambassador. Gay bars stopped selling screwdrivers and instead sold Anita Bryants, made with vodka and apple juice, the proceeds from which went to a fund that would help to fight against Bryant.

As a result, Bryant lost her contract with the Florida Citrus Commission, her marriage failed, and fundamentalist audiences and venues shunned her.

Bryant is still active today running Anita Bryant Ministries International.

Anita Bryant was, and is, an aggressively, pridefully, ignorant person (oddly, she is the only homophobe of her generation not holding a high post in the Trump administration).

But her vicious campaign not only taught Florida fruit growers calling people "fruits" was expensive, it also generated a remarkably literary moment that reverberates to this day. From his Tales of the City series novels, Armistead Maupin's Letter to Mama is read here by Sir Ian McKellen:

God likes Mark Burns better than Michelle Bachmann.

Mark Burns, the screaming Trump shill who runs a CGI Jesus-the-Republican church in South Carolina, says he will succeed Gowdy Doody in Congress.

Siwwy wabbit. South Carolina already has a black Republican in DC. Why one earth would they waste a perfectly good seat on another, and deny so many qualified white men?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Win a first edition this weekend on Rare Book Cafe!

This week’s Florida Antiquarian Book Fair Contest is sponsored by St. Petersburg’s Lighthouse Books. The prize is a first edition of a classic novel by the wild man of Florida literature, Harry Crews- The Mulching of America.

Kirkus Reviews’ reviewer had to purse his/her lips:

For 25 years, Hickum Looney has sold the most products for the Soaps For Life company, a record exceeded only by the Boss himself, a snaggle-toothed maniac with a harelip who promises salvation through his crappy soap products and has amassed a fortune doing it. Hickum, based in Miami, leads the properly anonymous existence of a company man, but everything changes when two females come into his lonely life. Ida Mae, an old woman abandoned by her husband, helps Hickum sell more products in a single day than anyone else has ever sold. This has incredible repercussions at the home office in Atlanta, where the Boss sees his worldview challenged. Meanwhile, Gaye Nell Odell, a young ex- prostitute, along with her vicious pit bull, Bubba, shoves her way into Hickum's solitary life. She and the equally ``rank and randy'' Ida Mae help Hickum overcome such embarrassments as chronic diarrhea and insecurity about his ``little raggedy ass Vienna sausage'' of a penis. The Boss has his own problems: his chauffeur, an ex-con who's tired of being booted in the butt; and his trainer, who suffers similar physical abuse for the money. The two are plotting revenge when the entire crew is sidetracked by an even stranger plot involving a major company shakeup and the fulfillment of a long-held rumor concerning the fate of ousted employees.

Imagine, if you can, a cross between Erskine Caldwell, Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner and Carson McCullers. Imagine him, next, a frequently drunk, profane ex-Marine who said he grew up in “the hookworm and rickets belt” of South Georgia. If you can conjure the likes of that, then you’ll feel right at home in the works of the novelist Harry Eugene Crews (1935-2012).

His family, and all his new neighbors as they moved, once a year, from one played out sharecropper farm to another, were so poor and ignorant most others who were poor and ignorant would have gazed on them, scratched their heads in wonder, and said, “Really?”

His childhood reading was mostly the Sears and Roebuck catalogue. Besides owning all the cool stuff in the world, they were astonishingly clean and happy-looking. At five, he survived a bout with polio, his legs drawn up behind him, racking him in spasms, as relatives, gawkers and faith healers consulted on the case.

After he got his legs back, he managed to fall into a cauldron of scalding water used to sear the hair off hog carcasses, and lived. 

After three years in the Marines, he got a BA in literature and an MA in education at the University of Florida, where he studied with the Southern Agrarians novelist Andrew Lytle. 

Even by the lurid standard of postwar Southern Gothic, Crews’ work was weird. He was 36 when his first novel was published. Margalit Fox wrote of it in his New York Times obit,

“The Gospel Singer,” published in 1968, [was] about a traveling evangelist who meets a lurid fate in a Georgia town, features characters of the sort that would people his dozen later novels: sideshow freaks, an escaped lunatic and a sociopath or two.

“You don’t intend to make a career out of midgets, do you?” Mr. Crews’s wife asked him early in his writing life.

Indeed he did. Besides midgets, later novels feature a 600-pound man who consumes titanic quantities of the diet drink Metrecal (“Naked in Garden Hills,” 1969); a woman who sings tenderly to her dead husband’s skull (“Scar Lover,” 1992); and, perhaps most famously, a man who eats an automobile — a 1971 Ford Maverick, to be exact — four ounces at a sitting (“Car,” 1972).

Crews and his wife married and divorced twice in a decade. They had two sons, and one drowned when he was four.

With articles in men’s magazines like Playboy and Esquire, Crews built following. Margalit Fox wrote,

Though his books captivated many reviewers, they were not the stuff of best-seller lists, in part because they bewildered some readers and repelled others. But they attracted a cadre of fans so fiercely devoted that the phrase “cult following” seems inadequate to describe their ardor...Despite their teeming decadence, or more likely because of it, Mr. Crews’s novels betray a fundamental empathy, chronicling his characters’ search for meaning in a dissolute, end-stage world. His ability to spin out a dark, glittering thread from this tangle of souls gave him a singular voice that could make his prose riveting.

In addition to his journalism, Crews published fifteen novels, three collection of essays, and a memoir of his childhood. A rock band was named for him, and several others wrote songs based on his work. One of his books, The Indian Runner, was made into a movie by Sean Penn.

He quit drinking in the 1980s. It just seemed like the thing to do at the time. “I had an ex-wife and I had an ex-kid and I had an ex-dog and I had an ex-house and I’m an ex-drunk,” he told The Times in 2006. “I’ve supported whores and dopers and drunks and bartenders. Thank God I don’t do that anymore.”

"Listen,” he told one of his last interviewers, “if you want to write about all sweetness and light and that stuff, go get a job at Hallmark."

The Quiz Question:

Of Harry Crews’ movie credits, were any not as himself? Discuss.

The Rules:

On Facebook, Private Message Lindsay Thompson with your answers. Answers will be accepted until 9 pm Friday, February 16, 2018. All correct answers will be sealed in a carefully cleaned Tostitos Creamy Spinach Dip Jar that no one from Price Waterhouse will get within miles of. The winner will be announced on the Rare Book Cafe show Saturday, February 17, 2018, 2:30-3:30 pm EST, on the Cafe’s Facebook page. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Join us today!

Granny Sessions' folk remedies

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The real Olympics can't be broadcast.