Moon Handbooks Pittsburgh in Stores Now
Oh wow. Moon Handbooks Pittsburgh is now on store shelves all over the place. I got an e-mail from my good friend Nicole (who once had drinks with Pagan Kennedy) the other day; she lives in San Francisco and was writing to tell me that a friend of hers who works at City Lights had mentioned they’s just received a shipment of the guide.
I consider this exciting news for the following reason: Historically speaking, City Lights is one of the most important independent bookstores in the country. The shop was founded over 50 years ago by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and City Lights’ publishing imprint was the first to publish Alan Ginsberg’s “Howl” in book form.
CITY LIGHTS TRIVIA:
Sections of “Howl” were supposedly written in an apartment building on nearby Broadway Street, right across a small alley from a residential hotel where I lived for a short while.
City Lights was the country’s first all-paperback bookstore. True, that’s a bit of an odd thing for a business to brag about, but still.
The “Howl” building is now a retirement home, if I’m not mistaken.
For over a year I worked at the Green Tortoise, an infamous youth hostel and travel agency which is literally a stone’s throw from City Lights. This is where I would often disappear during breaks, to browse through the book stacks and the zines in the small-press section (which still carries way too many chapbooks, by the way.)
The alley running between City Lights and its next-door neighbor, a wonderful bar known as Vesuvio, was officially re-named Jack Kerouac Alley some years ago by the City of San Francisco. (Anyone know the alley’s previous name?)
Anyway, the announcement of my book having appeared on store shelves was also exciting news because, as far as I knew, the thing wasn’t scheduled to go on sale for another two or three days. So after hearing from Nicole, I obviously buzzed on down to my neighborhood Borders, where I promptly located the book and then turned two copies of it face-out, so as to offer maximum exposure. This was thrilling. Even better was the realization that the other recent guide I’d worked on, Lonely Planet Turkey, was sitting on a shelf just ten or fifteen feet away. This made for quite a day. It was akin to being a minor-league celebrity, I suppose. And as some author or journalist once said (and I’m paraphrasing here), the best sort of fame is a writer’s fame, because only your hard-core fans will ever recognize you in public. However, I have no hard-core fans, so that last part is kind of a downer. Huh.