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My Years at the Gotham Book Mart with Frances Steloff, Proprietor

Recollections about the Pantheon of Writers and Artists Who Passed Through Her Stor

Matthew Tannenbaum


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The proprietor of the present "The Bookstore" in Lenox, MA, the author reflects on working early on at the legendary Gotham Book Mart on West 47th Street in New York City. He writes, "I am very fortunate to have found Frances Steloff, founder of The Gotham Book Mart, when I was a very young man, and she turned me into the bookman that I have since become. . . . to speak of Frances Steloff's Gotham Book Mart is to remember the entire twentieth century in belles-lettres."
Tannenbaum provides anecdotes and vignettes of Steloff as well as some of the many literary figures he met after serving in the Navy during the Vietnam war, including Tennessee Williams, Galway Kinnell, Anne Sexton, Archibald MacLiesh, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, J.D. Salinger ("a guy I almost tripped over one morning"). Steloff opened the Gotham in 1920, starting "a literary salon in the middle of New York City in the most wonderful time of its own history." Among those there: Martha Graham, Christopher Morely, Mencken and Dreiser, and Anais Nin. Steloff had her "battles with the censors, the court dates, the time she was actually arrested and only an 11th hour phone call to Bennett Cerf of Random House kept her out of prison." This charming memoir is enriched by the author's wonderment, drinking it all in with such memories as the weekend he "walked all over Manhattan . . . wearing e.e. cummings' fedora.

Worthy Shorts, 9781935340157, 48pp.

Publication Date: January 21, 2009