Or: What I Did On My Summer Vacation.
Coming to a mailbox near you.
One of my new year’s resolutions has come to pass, a mere eight months into 2014. You can now follow Honey & Wax on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram:
All Honey & Wax, all the time, on these four platforms.
No kids or cats will be posted, unless they are bookish and/or for sale.
Instagram’s probably the best. Seriously. Check it out:
If you work with rare books in New York City, chances are you’ve crossed paths with Jessica Pigza, dedicated rare book librarian at the New York Public Library and DIY style icon. Jessica just published a terrific new book, Bibliocraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects (Abrams, 2014).
When Jessica asked Honey & Wax to partner on a bibliocraft night in Brooklyn, there was no way I could say no.
We mined the Honey & Wax shelves for images that would inspire a simple, striking craft: hand-embroidered notecards. Park Slope’s Community Bookstore provided the space, Jessica provided the materials, and everybody got to work:
Found inside a secondhand book over Easter weekend: a mid-century bookmark from James Thin, Edinburgh bookseller and stationer. Muriel Spark wrote all her novels in 72-page notebooks from James Thin. If you remind me, this comes free with your next Muriel Spark order from Honey & Wax. Telegrams: “Bookman,” Edinburgh — boom.
Last night, I had a question about Jonathan Swift, and pulled down my college copy of The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, bought during my first week at Columbia in 1989. (Parenthetical note: why was a teenager with a sketchy command of English history allowed to take Augustan literature before Middle English and the Renaissance? Where was my advisor? Did I even have an advisor? “Absalom and Achitophel”? Anyhow. I guess it worked out.)
Browsing through Swift, I came across the heavily-highlighted, vaguely-recalled Spider and Bee episode from “The Battle of the Books,” in which the arrogant Modern Spider (scientific, self-reliant, predatory) argues with the serene Ancient Bee (philosophical, collaborative, beneficial). Swift’s sympathies, in 1704, lay squarely with the Bee, who “with long search, much study, true judgment, and distinction of things, brings home honey and wax.” Aesop gets the last word: “As for us the Ancients, we are content with the Bee to pretend to nothing of our own beyond our wings and our voice, that is to say, our flights and our language. For the rest, whatever we have got, has been by infinite labour and search and ranging through every corner of nature; the difference is that, instead of dirt and poison, we have rather chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax, thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light.”
Not the quote I was after, but I’m glad it’s the one I found.
It’s on! After two years, Honey & Wax has moved into a proper office. I no longer have to contemplate the fate of the Collyer brothers every time I return from a book fair. Come visit, by chance or appointment: Honey & Wax Booksellers, 540 President Street at the Brooklyn Creative League. The office with the yellow door!
So the Christmas season happened. It was festive. There were Manhattans. There was Brooklyn. In truth, I have no real memory of the last two weeks of December.
I came to my senses on the floor of the 69th Regiment Armory, for the inaugural Metropolis Fair, kicking off a historically frigid Bibliography Week in New York City:The armory air was heavy with history, from Marcel Duchamp’s avant-garde provocations in 1913 to fellow bookseller Greg Gibson’s high school track meets in 1961, which he declined to re-enact. (Why, Greg?)
Next week, I leave for Pasadena, far from the polar vortex, for the California International Antiquarian Book Fair. The last time I attended that fair, I gushed for the cameras. This time, I’ll be quieter but even more enthusiastic, because I’ll be regaining sensation in my toes.
Later in February, Honey & Wax will be exhibiting at the Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair, a New York City tradition. We’ll be sharing a booth with B&B Rare Books once again. Come downtown and say hi!And then, in March . . . the move! After two years as a scrappy start-up, Honey & Wax Booksellers will be leaving my dining room (and study, and closet, and hallway, and bedroom, and basement) and setting up a private bookroom here in Park Slope. Details to come. I’ll just be over here Googling honeycomb rugs if you need me . . . . . . and if you’ve read this far, you should bounce over to the books tab (there on your left) and see what’s come of all these travels. I’m a slow cataloger, but new acquisitions are making their way online, one by one.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the Old Stone House yesterday for this year’s Brooklyn Holiday Book Fair, especially Paul Auster, whose reading of “Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story” — and memories of freezing Minnesota Christmases with his in-laws — packed the house.
The first booksellers on the scene:
Peter Miller and Casey Baltes of Cobble Hill’s Freebird Books, unpacking:
Downstairs, Peter and Lee Austern of Brooklyn Books:
Tom Davidson, bringing the modern firsts:
Introducing Paul Auster! Reading his 1990 “Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story” (the inspiration for the 1995 indie classic Smoke, starring Harvey Keitel as Auggie), and passages from his 2012 memoir Winter Journal:
Thanks to all the bookish Brooklynites who made this day a success, with special thanks to Kim Maier at the Old Stone House, Erik DuRon and Elihu Dietz (both unsung and unpaid), and Paul Auster, who reminded us why we love books so much.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The Second Annual Brooklyn Holiday Book Fair.
Next Saturday, December 7, independent Brooklyn bookshops and booksellers will fill Park Slope’s Old Stone House with rare, vintage, and out-of-print books in a celebration of this town’s rich history of printing, reading, and writing. Building on the success of last year’s fair featuring Pete Hamill, this year’s fair includes an expanded range of local booksellers, and a public reading by Paul Auster of his Brooklyn holiday classic, “Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story.”
Mark your calendar. Discover great books. Meet local booksellers. Drink some coffee. Get those presents. Hear a story. Drink more coffee. Start the holiday season right.