Thursday, August 24, 2006

Il Postino

As I was training a new coworker yesterday, I suddenly realized how many regulars my store has. It felt like I was turning to him after ringing every other sale and saying, “S/he comes in here a lot and they like (fill in the blank genre).”

I may not be able to remember if they have the company card, but I know what the like to read. It’s this knowledge that the Boss and I use to try in order in books that will appeal to specific customers as well as the masses in general. One of the customers we go out of our way to find books for is The Postman.

I don’t know if he was actually a postman. The subject only came up once when I was complaining that my overflow UPS guy said that we’d be getting a bunch of boxes in that day with our regular delivery. “Don’t ever trust a postman,” my customer told me. “I was a postman. We lie.”

Of course he said this with a smile, and given that he likes to tell outrageous stories (he once came into the store after reading The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein that he heard on the news that all of my company’s employees were going to be locked in their respective stores until they could produce a story to win their freedom) he could have just been feeding me a line.

His former occupation (whatever it might be) aside, The Postman loves to read and his been known to pick up two to three hardbacks a week. His tastes tend to run from the historical (he just finished a biography of Beau Brummel) to the ribald (he’s a big fan of Trainspotting), but he’s always a joy to shop for. Here are a few of his latest reads:

Intoxicating: A Novel of Money, Madness, and the Invention of the World's Favorite Soft Drink by John Barlow

PW felt it was missing that special sparkle, while the Washington Post thought it was a story with zing. According to The Postman, you can call it Soda, you can call it Pop, or even hybrid the two to Soda Pop, but how can you resist a story with a “flamboyant, hunchback midget” and a temperance business man who create liquid gold?

You can’t.

A Pickpocket’s Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York by Timothy J. Gilfoyle

Everyone can pretty much agree that if you are interested in a colorful history of Old New York (and Kate, weren’t you the one looking for recommendations like that?), this is the book for you. Tales of immigrants, con artists, professional tricksters and the squalor of the Nineteenth century appeals to The Postman, and he felt it needed to go up on our wall in a place of prominence. We agreed.

That’s all I have time for today—I must get ready for work—but I hope these appeal, otherwise The Postman might threaten to lock you in my store.


Angelle said...

Ooohh, a new Timothy Gilfoyle book! I loved City of Eros, and had no idea there was a new one.

Thanks for the heads up!

Waterhouse said...

For tales of the old New York underworld, I don't think you can beat Gangs Of New York by Herbert Asbury.
I'm talking about the non-fiction book that the movie was based on.
The book is much more of a collection of oral histories about NYC criminal life from just after the Revolution, to just after the turn of the 20th century.

Kate R said...

I'm so there. Oh boy!

Thank you BSC and Postman!!! Has he read the big best seller about the murderer and the Chicago World's fair? know.

Kate R said...

For old New York crime stuff, I like Luc Sante's book Low Life.

And I know I sound like a broken record, but I love the essays by Joseph Mitchell, Bottom of the Harbor. Wonderful portraits of the New York harbor in the 1940s or thereabouts.

Eileen said...

I should warn you I am at real risk for being crushed to death by my to be read pile. My estate will blame you...