Archive for the ‘The Dandy Roll’ Category

What Next?

Friday, November 18th, 2011 by Jordan

So, as always, I’m having trouble pulling words from the depths of my brain to write…my last blog post. Today is November 18, 2011. The day that will live in infamy as my final day at Lorne Bair Rare Books.  I can’t really sum up the last two years here in a paragraph or so that I find on par with my own standards, so I won’t even try.

In a week and a half I’ll be driving myself and my faithful Chihuahua companion up to the bowels of New York City to start my new life in librarianship.  And of course, I’m not going to leave here without unabashedly self-promoting my new blog. Please follow it at (sound familiar?).

Well, six readers, it’s time for me to say goodbye.  It’s been really really really real here.  But don’t worry. I’ll probably be back.

Forever yours,

Me (like, you know, Jordan!)

Another one bites the dust…NYC or BUST.

Friday, October 14th, 2011 by Jordan

For the past two months I have been marinating, then percolating, then stewing over writing this blog entry. I knew this day was going to come (at least, I was hoping this day was going to come), but now that it has come, I’m at a loss for words.  I have what they call the block of the writer. It reminds me of that scene in Almost Famous (aka the second best movie of all time) where poor little Opie tries to write the article that will not only start his career but push this struggling pathetic rock band of which he writes into stardom. He pencils, “Russell’s fingers fly like airplanes of music” on a sheet of paper only to crumple it up and throw it on the floor of the bathroom to join the steadily growing pile of failed first lines.  Since July I’ve been thinking of that perfect first line. You know, the one that will capture my audience of 10 and force them to keep reading until the bitter end? It’s pointless, this is all I have to say:

I got into graduate school. In New York [CITY]. Starting in January. To pursue my MLS, of course.  Hey-zeus Christo!

I’ve known this exodus to New York was going to happen for some time now, but I have been reluctant to tell the world exactly what my plans were, mostly because I had no solidified plans. Though I kept telling myself, “don’t worry you’ll get into library school,” and even when my parents, family, friends, even my dog, reassured me of the same thing, I couldn’t be sure until I actually got in. Well! Check that one off the bucket list.  Now everything else will fall into place, like a job [hint, hint, readers. I’m actively seeking employment in the New York City area!], a place to live [check that off too, hello tiny closet space in the East Village!], and all of those other stresses that come about when one has to relocate to another city.  Add a “what the hell am I going to do with my HORSE?!,” and well, you’ve got my situation.

Now, to follow up from above, I don’t believe this blog post will launch my career.  Nor will it launch the already launched career of Lorne Bair Rare Books, proprietor of this blog.  However, the bildungsroman novel that could be written of the two years I’ve been here of my life and the life of the shop may quite possibly be a candidate for runner up on the New York Times Bestseller list. Fantastic things have happened, not only to the business, but also to me, since that fateful day in December of 2009 when I stepped into the terribly messy space [nah, it wasn’t that bad…] that neither Lorne nor I would even consider calling a proper bookseller’s office now. So many fantastic things that I can’t put them into words, or even a bullet list. It would be much, much too long.

I’d love to end with some very heartfelt textbook paragraph about how much I have grown, how far the shop has come, and that my spirit will live on in the office for years to come.  But we all know that doesn’t need to be said.

Instead, I’ll end with this.  Dear occupiers of Wall Street: I’m moving to New York December 1. Though I will be unemployed and seeking work, I will never, ever join you.  If you get in my way, and put as much as one unwashed finger on my Bergdorf Goodman jacket, that I purchased with money I earned, I will cut it off. You’ve been warned.

With all the love in the world,

Jordan deButts

p.s. don’t worry, this isn’t my last post, even if it sounds like it is.

Peace out, Elizabeth Bennet. There’s a new girl in town.

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 by Jordan

I am delighted to say, dear readers, that on this dreariest of fall equinoxes, our beloved and laborious catalog (the thirteenth) is now filtering through the postal system, commencing its arduous journey to your very fingertips. Yes, it may encounter sun, rain, heat, or gloom of night, but fortunately each is housed in its own mylar sleeve to ensure no fatal incidents in travel…for how much longer will we have the ability to rely on our trusted couriers to fulfill that promise?

Before I get too political, let me get to the real point.  Now that our catalog is out there in the ether, I finally have some time to say some wonderful things about Rare Book School’s Assistant Director and Curator of Collections, Barbara Heritage.  For, as none of you know, I attended her talk on the reception of Jane Eyre at the first of the fall’s Book History Colloquium at Columbia last Thursday.  Not only is Barbara a wonderful speaker, but her passion for reading and book collecting gave me the same inspiring fervor that I felt during my week at RBS.  She finished up the Q&A session with an emphatic and heartfelt statement that will forever stay in my mind; it went something like this, so pay no attention to the quotation marks: “to truly love and know a book, you can’t have just one copy of it. You will always need to know what else is out there.” And after listening to her speak for an hour, it is obvious that Barbara truly loves Jane Eyre.

As most people (I think) do, I have always thrown Charlotte Brontë and her sisters in the same category as other Romantic writers whose stories portray beautiful yet pathetic heroines always saved at the last minute by daring handsome men of landed gentry (I’m looking at you, Jane Austen). What is this crap, teaching young girls the lesson: “Have no fear, sweet darling, even if you are poor and stupid, you are beautiful! You skin, it sparkles like diamonds, and your man, he will come for you well before you are past the age of childbirth.”  What if you aren’t beautiful and weak, what then, huh?

Enter Jane [Eyre] (Damn you again, Jane Austen for forcing me to be explicit).  She’s smart. But, she’s plain. She’s an extremely hard worker. But, she’s ugly. She’s fearless and not weak. But, unfortunately, her skin doesn’t sparkle like diamonds.  In short: she’s a girl with an abusive childhood who finds herself in the care of the rude and selfish Rochester, with whom she falls in love only to suddenly find he’s already married to a “lunatic nymphomaniac with vampiric tendencies” (thank you, Barbara). Oh and then after all of that? She still marries him and cares for him even though he’s practically a blind paraplegic. Here is a story that doesn’t follow the general plot of the Romantic novels all girls have grown up reading and loving.

Immediately, I have a new respect for Charlotte Brontë. The fact that she and her sisters posed as men, wrote endlessly to publishers to get their stories and poems printed, faced rejection at almost every turn, yet never gave up their will to write something different from the status quo of the day is inspiration enough.  Couple that with a woman speaking from her heart about a novel to which she has devoted years of her life, and I now want to go out and buy every copy of Jane Eyre that I can find!  Well, I probably won’t do that, but I will definitely re-read it from a new perspective.

And I might re-read another book, The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, which I’ve been dying to try to pull into this post but couldn’t quite figure out how until now.  A story set in 1985 England, but where books are not just words on paper, but living creatures, where “mortals” (for lack of a better word) can find themselves entering the plots of any written book, speaking with characters, and, in some cases, changing the story line entirely. It’s much lighter and much easier to read than most books published before 1900, maybe because it was published in 2002. But now, after Barbara’s talk, I wonder how large of a Brontë fan Fforde is, and if any of his inspiration stems from the passage that Barbara read to us from E. C. S. Gaskell’s The Life and Works of the Sisters Brontë in which Charlotte writes to Mr. George Smith:

You should be very thankful that books cannot “talk to each other as well as to their reader.” Conceive the state of your warehouse if such were the case. The confusion of tongues at Babel, or a congregation of Irvingites in full exercise of their miraculous gift, would offer but a feeble type of it. Terrible, too, would be the quarreling. [You]…would all have to go in several times in the day to part or silence the disputes. …Still I like the notion of a mystic whispering amongst the lettered leaves, and perhaps at night, when London is asleep and Cornhill desert, when all your clerks and men are away, and the warehouse is shut up, such a whispering may be heard–by those who have ears to hear.

Since first reading The Eyre Affair, I have entertained the idea that all books and their characters are somehow connected with each other, like that collective conscience all of those conspiracy theorists are talking about nowadays.  And it is our duty as bibliophiles, as Barbara Heritage has done, to keep that conversation going, never allowing the whispering to cease.

photo credit: RTPOT