Tuesday, March 13, 2007

An Ode to Book Passage

by James Bernard Frost

Book Passage has been very kind in choosing me to be its first-ever blogger, and therefore to write its inaugural blog entry, and so, unlike the usual all-about-me blathering I do on the James Bernard Frost blog, I wanted to say something rich and profound, or at the very least to properly introduce the blog to the reading public.

As is often the case with me, this pressure induced paralysis, and so the newly inaugurated Book Passage blog has sat empty, sadly waiting for me to say something. This paralysis was unusually keen, as a) I was not given any sort of deadline and b) I have recently given up coffee and cannot be induced to get off the couch.

But nonetheless, I am now starting, and although, so far, it's just been the usual blathering, I am about to say something rich and profound, and what I'm about to say is this:

Isn't Book Passage cool?

I remember, as a former San Franciscan, occasionally attending a reading or a class at the Corte Madera store. The drive to the store was itself a passage: over the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Rainbow tunnel, down into Marin, its modern low-slung buildings so different from the narrow canyons of San Francisco with its gilded, Victorian walls.

And once there? Nestled in a side development that one imagines would have long ago gone to seed were it not for the store, Book Passage was a hidden gem, a secret swimming hole that only the locals knew about. I could never quite figure out how the store could draw such luminaries to its small, understated confines: Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Amy Tan--not to mention the constant flow of travel writers, personal favorites like Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson to name a few. Where else could a starving artist like me have such close access to such an array of talent?

And the classes. And the conferences. Again, how did Book Passage do it? How could it make such incredible use of such a small space?

I guess, what's so cool about Book Passage, is that it is so like a book--a small, insignificant looking thing, yet with so much packed inside...


Jill Gustavson said...

I loved James' description of Marin and San Francisco as well as the analogy of Book Passage as a book. Thank you for this lovely blog entry and for Book Passage in Marin and SF!

Leslie Van Dyke said...

I still remember when I first discovered Book Passage. I had been living in Marin for a year, driving to Berkeley for all my independent bookstore needs. Suddenly it dawned on me that there must be an independent bookstore nearby. When I clicked on their website I was blown away by all the events and classes that Book Passage has to offer. Two days later I was attending an event. Within a week, I was working part-time at Book Passage as a bookseller. Now a customer again, Book Passage is my home away from home and I consider the people who work at Book Passage my family. Some amazing people work at Book Passage. I highly recommend getting to know the booksellers—all are warm, friendly, well-read people eager to share their knowledge and love of books.