Superman never made any money for saving the world from Solomon Grundy

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book 'em

So, I mentioned last time that the coolest bits of Bellingham are in the area that comprised the original four towns and I alluded to a maximally cool bookstore as an example. I have actually mentioned this bookstore in a prior post: Henderson Books.

The store is rather unassuming from the outside, sort of a typical used book store, so on what grounds do I assert its awesomeness, you may well ask. Here is my evidence, in four points.

Point the first:  Just look at it on the inside, willya!?

Is this place crazy or what? Henderson might have as many volumes here as are in Powell's City of Books in Portland - but crammed into one building instead of taking up an entire city block. The shelves go right up to the ceiling, and bridges have been built across the aisles to hold even more books. It's a bit of madhouse, but you can really find just about anything there.

Which brings us to...

Point the second: The Gandalara Saga

Back in the early eighties,  I read this relatively obscure paperback science fiction adventure series, set in the wonderful desert world of Gandalara and chock-full of swordfights, derring-do, and sabre-tooth tigers. I devoured each volume as it would come out, and then re-read the saga as a whole; in many ways, it is a nearly perfect example if its idiom. 

In one of my many transitions over the years, I found myself separated from my seven-book complete set.  I slowly built it back up, but volume six, Return to Eddarta, eluded me for years. Until I came to Henderson, which not only had my missing volume, but also two complete sets. 


Still not enough? Okay, let's move on to:

Point the third: Science Fiction by Gaslight

Sometime around 1971, I read - and re-read, and re-re-read - this book, which was in the collection of the Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. It is a fascinating collection of short stories written around the turn of the last century, many of which have stayed with me in no little detail until this day. Some of the stories are prescient in their depiction of the then-future, now-present; some are curiosities whose presumptions have been overturned by later science. I left New York in 1978 and had not been able to get my hands on a copy since then, as much as I have desired to re-re-re-read the stories. I would occasionally find a copy at some rare book dealer online, at the asking price of $50 or more, and sometimes wished I had just kiped the book before heading west.

On the visit to Henderson during which I picked up Return to Eddarta, I asked where a copy of this book might be if indeed the store had one (there's no automated inventory system of any kind - this place is totally old school). A clerk to me over to a  far corner of the shop where the SF anthologies were stacked and pointed to one of the bridges across the aisles. "It might be up there," she said. "What was it called again?"

I pointed, mouth agape. "It's that one."

Point the fourth: The cherry on top.

As if that wasn't enough, after climbing up a ladder (not a step-ladder -  at Henderson you have to use real honest-to-pete ladders to get it its top shelves) to retrieve the book,  I found out the price:

Six-ninety-five! Hella sold!

QED: Henderson is one of the coolest bookstores on the planet, in the coolest section of a pretty cool town.

1 comment:

"Yojimbo_5" said...

Henderson's is, indeed, one of the coolest book-stores on the planet. I spent a well-remembered afternoon there, browsing. I don't remember buying anything, though.