Cheever Books

July 21, 2014 at 7:25 pm (Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

This weekend I had three book signings in San Antonio. Each signing was at a Half Price Books location.

When I wasn’t haunting Half Price Books stores selling and signing my own books, however, I found myself being a tourist and stumbled into quiet places like Cheever Books.

P1020562This is the back parking lot, you actually walk around to the front to enter.  It still looks appropriately quaint and historic from any direction.  And once inside, you are greeted with this:

P1020568The online reviews of this store run fifty-fifty.  It seems most people either love it or hate it.  I’m here to give my honest assessment.  I love it, but they aren’t perfect.

So here’s the scoop on Cheever Books…

You might want to spend hours here.  Don’t come for a quick peek.  Things aren’t organized well, but the experience is magical.  If you have the time to go on a treasure hunt you’re bound to find Gabriel Garcia Marquez in three different places within the M’s as opposed to one place in the G’s.

The poetry wall is extensive – and full of short story anthologies.  There’s a lot along this wall you won’t find anywhere else though.

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If I had had enough money, I would have bought this book.  It isn’t common.  It was in good condition.  It looks exciting.

However, I settled on something more affordable.

I found these hiding underneath a stack of Horatio Hornblower books that I already own.  I couldn’t get the whole set, they were roughly $10 a piece, but I did get the one on the far left and I hope to find the others again one day.

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Upon any visit you are bound to find three things: a magical gem over priced, a magical gem appropriately priced, and a great book that is neither magical nor appropriately priced.  Relish the ambiance and the appropriately priced gem, don’t allow your rose colored lenses to be clouded by the rest.  In a book hunter’s world, it is still a marvelous visit.

There’s a review about the owner being “creepy,” but I met two out of the what I believe to be three employees for the company, and both were pleasant.  I enjoyed my time in Cheever Books and would readily visit again with cash in hand to spend.

It’s not as clean and easy a shopping experience as what you will have at Good Books in the Woods (where you will find similar treasures at more affordable prices), but it is most excellent.  That is not to say it’s dirty either.  By “not as clean” I mean that you will find books piled in your path, much of the inventory is peppered along the floors.  There are a few dust bunnies, but not nearly what you would expect among such a haphazard collection of books.

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So, San Antonio residents who adore Cheever Books – when you visit Houston and you need your  book fix, your store is Good Books in the Woods.  Houstonians who love Good Books, when in San Antonio, the stores on Broadway are for you.  (The Broadway HPB gives our Kirby location a run for its money in the awesome department.)

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Literary Journal Monday – The Black Cat

March 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

P1010396It may have been a whole week since my last post, but the discovery I made today has made the whole week of dry reading worth it.  In fact, what I discovered today at Good Books in the Woods made this entire series of Literary Journal Mondays worth it.

Today I found The Black Cat.

Tucked away, just two hardbound volumes (collections of the actual magazine), hidden in the Literary Journal room.

It was a beautiful, thrilling moment, opening the jacket to a random page and finding this:

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“The Black Cat” is a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, originally published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1843 – it was a horror piece about a murderer similar to The Tell-Tale Heart.  It’s no wonder that in 1895, a literary journal called The Black Cat was born, dedicating itself to short stories of an “unusual nature.”  Of course, I don’t know for sure that the founders of The Black Cat were referencing Poe, but I can’t help but jump to that conclusion.  It’s something I would do.

The original mThe Black Cat coveragazine covers varied from month to month, like most magazine covers do, but they all have a spunky contemporary Gothic look that I imagine was hard for people to pass up.  The publication ran until 1922 and featured some surprising contributors.  Rupert Hughes, Susan Glaspell, Ellis Parker Butler, Alice Hegan Rice, Holman Day, Rex Stout, O. Henry, Charles Edward Barns, and Octavus Roy Cohen all made appearances in the journal. For Jack London collectors it has become a bit of marvelous legend, as London attributed his “A Thousand Deaths” story being printed there to saving his life.  They paid him when no one else would, and when he really needed the cash.  London is quoted having said, “literally and literarily I was saved.”

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It is so coveted by collectors that the original edition featuring London sells at auction for more than the above hardbound books go for in antiquities stores.

Jack London The Black Cat

Were I a millionaire, I would not hesitate to buy them all up.  Standing in the store today I remembered Nicholas Basbaines’ A Gentle Madness as I salivated over the two collectibles on the shelf.  This is true beauty, I thought, this in my hand.

I read Jack London’s contribution, it is only a few pages, then continued to snap photos as I carefully turned the pages, my eyes thirsty for old fonts and typesetting.

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