This is the first blog post in a long time, and the first since we announced moving into our new location. The silence has been thanks to the giant task of moving in – and that’s why you haven’t seen any pictures yet – building new bookcases, swapping out ugly-ass florescent lights (and buying a bunch of lamps once we found out traditional bulb wattage over 75 is now illegal), planning events, promoting the store and settling into the new and very different character of the store.

We’re located upstairs from a chapter (Alan Seeger Post II) of the American Legion. Yes, there is an American Legion chapter here – and many others all over Mexico. It’s not unlike chapters of the organization you’ll find all over the U.S., with a bar downstairs, where tender Emilio has worked for forty years, and by my judgement the very best hamburgers in the city. It’s great having a bar so close (and if you know me, you’ll be surprised I’m not ‘watching the store’ from a barstool) because now I can host events without being bartender, janitor, and bouncer while trying to sell books. I have way, way more events than in the old location where I had to perform that balancing act.

Every Friday evening, I invite our customers, friends and out-of-town guests to join us in sitting out the vicious end-of-the-week rush hour – the hora pico we call it here, the hour that bites – for 2-for-1 cocktails and Mexican beers, karaoke hosted by local legend Factor, and occasionally other mayhem: last week we had a standup/sketch comedy team, which, while I won’t say they were honed and polished, or even for that matter very funny, had a lot of balls and introduced an atmosphere like that of old punk shows in which you suddenly felt like anything might happen.

We restart our reading series this coming Tuesday with Missoula, Montana novelist David Allan Cates, who will join Matthew Stadler, Nick Zedd and David Lida on our UTVB reading Wall of Fame (once I find somewhere to replace that). Sorry by the way it’s been all dudes thus far. I leave it to others to speculate why this city draws a certain type of (male) English-language writer, whether to visit or to live. It’s out of my hands.

As far as my own reading goes, I’ve been in a strange kind of funk: I haven’t stopped reading, but after a quick gobble of a totally random new find, Keith Scribner’s The Oregon Experiment – not the 70′s Christopher Alexander plan for U of O’s dorms, but a novel set in contemporary NW college town activist-world, rather solid though suffering from a reverse pathetic fallacy in which the work takes on the tameness of the subject (I fantasize of how William Styron would have written it, like a Greek tragedy) – I started reading the novels of John Le Carre. (How do you put an accent on a letter with an English keyboard? I really need to learn this.)

They are awesome.

In short order I made my way through the serviceable A Murder of Quality, following it with  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (clearer and more ingenious than its small and big-screen adaptations), The Honorable Schoolboy (maybe the best so far), A Call for the Dead, Smiley’s People, and The Looking Glass War. Everything my father told me 30 years ago was true: this writer knew his subject, its mundane real face, verging on the most dramatic human hopes and fears. (My dad knew more than a little about the Great Game himself.) We inherited a ton of these titles from the American Legion’s old semi-storage room/semi-bookstore, and they are cheap. You should come buy them.

Also, there’s T-shirts! (150 pesos, in black, red and green and available in most size-color combinations). We’re painting the ceiling sometime in the next couple of weeks, and waiting for donation of a big, big rug (anyone?). So many books are coming in the door here, for trade and to donate, that we only really need to request a select several dozen titles from our stateside buyers. So road trips are not planned until summer. If you can’t find something you want to read on these shelves there’s something wrong with you.

See you some Friday!

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