When I’m working here at the library and someone asks me how I am feeling I almost always answer “great” or “fantastic” because really, it is always a fabulous day when you work in a public library. Still, once in a while, I think about my eventual retirement and those thoughts turn to working in a bookstore. Doesn’t that just sound perfect? So for research purposes I keep tabs on a few bookstores through their newsletters and social media and was so excited to learn that the actor Jeffrey Tambor is part owner of a wonderful shop in Los Angeles. It’s called Skylight and they have the coziest little spot there with a neighbourhood vibe that comes across in their website and through their promotional material.
Another favourite shop of mine is owned by author Louise Erdrich (the most recent book you will find of hers on our shelves is the fifth book in her series for children called Makoons but if you missed her 2016 novel for adults, LaRose, you should go back and enjoy it right now) and it’s a treat of a bookshop in Minneapolis. Actually, it’s not just a store that sells books. Birchbark Books sells “good books, native arts and jewelry” and is also a community hub. It’s another vibrant website that is worth visiting regularly for their great book vibe and cheerful photographs of the dogs that are connected with staff and visitors to the store.
Several other authors have connections to bookstores and this isn’t surprising at all. Judy Blume has a splendid community hub in Key West that hosts great author readings that you dream about attending in flip flops while carrying a suitable iced drink (www.booksandbookskw.com) and the ever delightful Ann Patchett has a crew of amazing booksellers in Nashville at Parnassus Books where you know you would spend hours making friends with books, booksellers and the furry creatures who visit there. I have a special place in my heart for a store in Plainville, Mass. Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney opened his store, called An Unlikely Story, in a town of less than 9,000 by turning an old building into a bookstore, café, gift shop and a large meeting space that is used for yoga classes, community events and some of the best author readings I have ever seen. It’s almost painful to get their newsletter as you see how many authors make the trip to Jeff Kinney’s store to read – they must all love this guy or just be a part of that wonderful literary feeling they have there. Now that is a reason to take a road trip!
And, speaking of great author visits, Jeffrey Tambor was a guest at his own bookstore when he launched his memoir Are you anybody? in May of this year. That would have been a wonderful, welcoming crowd even though at this point in his career, I think he and his family of young children are living in New York City. Tambor began his career on Broadway but has had small roles in many of the iconic TV shows of the late 70s and early 80s like “Taxi” and “Starsky & Hutch”. Do you remember him from “The Ropers”? I absolutely do. He is still stopped on the street for that part even though most recently he is playing George Sr. & Oscar Bluth in “Arrested Development” and was also the incredible Maura Pfefferman in “Transparent”. There is no way anyone will forget that part. People will stop him on the street to talk about that show for decades. Just imagine having such an incredible career. Well, you don’t have to imagine this because you can read about it in this outstanding book.
This is a memoir I would have missed if I hadn’t received an e-mail about it from Skylight books and I am so thrilled to have read it. Jeffrey Tambor has been a lifelong presence on the big and small screen (you should have a look at his CV on imdb.com – you have to keep scrolling and scrolling through it) and so many of the parts he has played have stayed with me. His face and his voice stand out in each production he has done and reading his memories and how grateful he is for each opportunity was quite a treat. He’s an actor, not a writer, so the pacing of the book floats around a bit but you get a real sense of his personality far more than you would if he had used a ghost writer or if this were a celebrity memoir which had been ‘told to’ someone else and had all of the fun massaged out of it. I think this might be a book I’ll choose to buy. I just can’t decide which of my favourite bookstores to order it from.