Sunday, April 8, 2007


Through the bead curtains (unobtainable nowadays it seems) and up to the desk (that is, the counter). A small table display of recently received books. A small cabinet of magazines, pamphlets, chapbooks. The flat top usually features the latest Australian Book Review, Blue Dog, & some mini books. Small revolving stand holding back numbers of Rob Riel & Judy Johnson's WAGTAIL series of poetry tasters featuring contemporary Australian poets. They're up to number 60 or so now; recent poets include Chris Wallace-Crabbe & Robyn Rowland. $3 a pop. Along the wall to the left of the desk if you're sitting at it or to the right if you're facing it is the American section. Closest to the desk is BEATS & CO, four packed small shelves including a New York School section. Final two shelves is the African-American selection. Next section is called EMILY & CO, that is classical American literature (Dickinson, Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, Melville) followed by a chronological series of 20C authors. Different species of Modernism; 30s Realism; Objectivism; Pound, Eliot et al. Two shelves called AMERICAN CRITICISM (a title political types find amusing for some reason). From then on along the wall is the alphabetical sequence of American poets, Ammons, Ashbery, Auster & so on all the way to the Wrights (CD, Charles, James) & Zukofsky. Running along the top shelf of the entire section is an American Fiction selection.
On the small wall at the end of the room, if one was looking from the bead curtain, below picture board on which a signed James Dickey poster is pinned in a collage of photos & handbills, there's a small Canadian section & a Native American selection. Adjacent three tall shelves house a Professional section (dictionaries, how-to-dos), English-language poetry & prose Anthologies, Australian poetry & prose Anthologies. Around one goes past a cabinet of
special liitle books, collectibles etc and onto the far wall dominated by the AUSTRALIAN POETRY section. To its left is a tall ASIA-PACIFIC set of shelves (poetry, fiction, political & literary studies). The alphabetical Australian poetry sequence is followed in quick succession by Australian lit crit, biographies, history & society, the INDIGENOUS Australian literature, then Australian Fiction selection, Australian Classics, and a small but not insignificant NEW ZEALAND section. To its right a set of shelves devoted to Post-Colonial literary studies and various shelves of poetry & prose from the CARRIBEAN, AFRICA, the MIDDLE EAST, SOUTH AFRICA.
On the other side of the room if one were standing with one's back to the American section is the wall of EUROPEAN literature. Beginning with anthologies & literary & political studies from various European countries, one proceeds to the alphabetical sequence of European Poetry & Prose. It's more of a selection than the kind of comprehensivity of the American & Australian sections. From Akhmatova to Jelinek, from Junger to Zweig. Next is the IRISH section, prose & poetry combined. And then the British section divided into Scottish, Welsh & English divisions. Sharing thesecond English shelving is the BRITISH CLASSICS section, chronologically arranged, Chaucer to Hardy via the King James, Blake & the Lakes poets. Alongside is a section including BLOOMSBURY writers, THE POWYS FAMILY, LAWRENCE(DH) & CO, and some British Modernism. One could carry on around into the PHILOSOPHY section but before that one could turn at right angles into the main room for the THEATRE section and various small holdings of ROCK N ROLL, POLITICS, ART, FILM, MUSIC. On the other & blind side of these shelves are various subsets of Philosophy & History of Ideas. Off-centre in the room is a double-sided cabinet containing on the Theatre & etc facing side, FANTASY literature & its subsets, for example THE INKLINGS and their sources from the Norse & Arthurian Mythos to various histories & esoterica; DECADENT literature, a SCI-FI selection. On the other side of the double cabinet are the SOUTH AMERICAN section and the CHINESE, JAPANESE, KOREAN section (with a selection of Buddhist literature, Haiku & etc).
Here & there are other cabinets & shelves featuring NATURE, the kind of British selection the name SHIRE might evoke (from Noel Coward's lyrics to Chesterton, Belloc, Williamson & co), a FIRST WORLD WAR selection, and ever changing NEW TITLES selection.
By now one should be ready to perch on a stool or relax in a chair and take it all in!
MOBILE PHONES ARE DISCOURAGED AS IS THE DRINKING OR EATING OF STICKY FOOD. Not trying to emulate Borders bookshops we are not in favour of lying on the floor to read or to read books cover to cover. It is, after all, a bookshop in the old fashioned way.

April 8th, 2006


E. Reilly said...

Wherever CW has been located, whether in a basement, up some rickety elevator, in cyberspace, it has always been a welcoming place. At some stage you will need to get a grant from Strawberry Hills to employ some eager, bright-eyed post-grad to:
1. catalogue & assemble your papers
2. organize a conference on CW's positive influence in Australian Literature &
3. make a decent coffee!

Ted Reilly

cold pressed publishing said...

Hey Kris
That bright-eyed post-grad is here! Almost.
I'll write to you today, the old fashioned way (delivery Friday), so we can discover which article arrives first.
Having said that, I'm not in a position to catalogue your collection, or organise a conference, but I would like to interview you and then write a profile about you/your bookshop in the post-VWC era of less traffic and uncertain times.
Best regards
-- claire e.

collectedworks said...

Hi Claire, Thank you for yr comment... 3 years late(r)!!! Youre very welcome to come by, but so many interviews abt the Shop over the years we repeat ourselves & bore everyone silly... You say 'post-VWC era' etc --so you know us, probably know me? Ring the Shop, 9654 8873; either leave message or catch me Thurs a/noon, friday...
Best wishes, Kris H.