Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Howard Frank Mosher's New Classic: THE GREAT NORTHERN EXPRESS

HFM's map of his "Great American Bookshop Tour," eastern half - including Kingdom Books, in small green letters.
In the spirit of Vermont author Howard Frank Mosher's newest book, both a road trip and a beacon of appreciation for "independent" bookstores, we traveled to Montpelier yesterday -- to visit Bear Pond Books, one of the most welcoming and well-filled bookshops we know. Owned by Claire Benedict (and her husband Rob), it's resolutely independent and avidly reader-oriented.

And it was a wonderful place to settle into our seats and enjoy the annual slide show that Howard offers to accompany his book touring. I was glad to see that he's still including among the slides the noted one that shows him firing a shotgun at a "negative review" pinned to his garage wall. At least, he's still showing it in Vermont -- he says his wife Phillis advised him not to show it in places that don't understand that there can be such a thing as firearms-related humor. (Come on, if he'd really shot the sheet of paper in the way the slide illustrates, he'd have a huge hole in his garage wall. Vermonters understand that. They know it's all in fun. Apparently one viewer in San Francisco, at City Lights Books, didn't catch on.)

The book introduced this way, THE GREAT NORTHERN EXPRESS, is a warm and entertaining travel memoir. Mosher took off cross-country by car on the day after his 65th birthday -- also the day after his final treatment for prostate cancer -- and focused on visits to many of the surviving independent bookstores. Are they dwindling? Sure! In a culture where lack of time is celebrated, it's only natural that a lot of readers turn to online sources for their books, and rarely visit the comfortable shops that used to be their regular spots for examining trends, reading first pages, discovering new treats and rediscovering old ones, and so on.

But we're still here, those of us too stubborn or too much in love with the book trade to close the doors. Yay! Kingdom Books is having a great time marketing (mostly) mysteries, and we continue to dedicate a shelf to Howard Frank Mosher's classic Vermont novels and occasional memoirs (this is his second). And to make it easy for you to find them, even without driving to Vermont, here's a link to the Mosher books we have today; we'll add a few more from time to time (I know Dave's adding another one later today). It's a great way to honor Mosher for his generous, gifted, and gently haunted storytelling.

I bet you can tell we're fans.

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