Hello and welcome to the first interview of 2020! This time I interviewed IG account : @leftbankbooksny
Left Bank Books is a bookstore located in New York City and it co-owned by Erik DuRon (who has twenty years experience as a book seller) and Jess Kuronen (who is a graphic designer and artist)
1. What is “Left Bank Books?”
“Left Bank Books is a used, vintage and rare bookshop in Greenwich Village. We specialize in literature, art, and arts-related subjects (i.e., music, film, photography, dance, theater, fashion, architecture, design, children’s books, etc.). Our emphasis tends to be on 20th-century books, though we handle some antiquarian books going as far back as the 17th century, as well as some very contemporary books (though nothing technically “new”). We’re especially interested in books that marry word and image in a distinctive, in many cases pre-digital way – books that are striking and compelling to look at and page through. Every book we buy for inventory needs to justify its place on the shelf, as we’re tiny (about 250 square feet), so we’re constantly asking, what is interesting about this book? Will people want to keep it when we’re all in the grip of de-cluttering our lives, and otherwise doing a lot of our reading on digital platforms? Will they want to give it as a gift to someone special in their lives?
Left Bank started out over 20 years ago under prior ownership, as a neighborhood used bookshop that handled some rarities. As rents increased in New York City and the demographics of Greenwich Village changed with gentrification the shop struggled. It was on the brink of insolvency several times and got rescued by a series of well-meaning landlords and new owners, but each time confronted the same challenges anew, finally shuttering in 2016. Jess and I were working there when that happened, and thought we might be able to do things a little differently. We wanted to retain the old shop’s DNA as a neighborhood shop focusing on used, vintage and rare books, but we wanted to distill it down and reimagine it, almost as a gallery space for books, a place where the mission would be to preserve book culture but in a timely way that doesn’t feel overly reverent and stultifying. A place that’s aesthetically pleasing and fun to shop and spend time discovering in. So that’s what we did, and we re-opened in the spring of 2019.”
2. Have you noticed any book trends in your store this holiday season?
“Two of our most popular books lately have been any edition of Alice In Wonderland (not surprising, as it’s a perennial favorite, and we always try to have some iteration of it) and a title we recently started to stock (and track down every copy of we could find): Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement. It’s an art monograph from the 1980s and focuses on people like Leonora Carrington, Remedios Vara, Lee Miller, Frida Kahlo, etc, who were largely active in the 30s and 40s. They all seem to be hot right now, but I especially like the tandem nature of a book like that and Alice, which is surreal in its own right. I think maybe the world is ready to be remade in the image of some very creative, headstrong women.”
3. If I walked into the store and wanted some good winter reads for the upcoming winter season. What three books would you recommend and why?
“Well, three fun and distinctively “New York” books we’ve acquired recently are first editions of Andy Warhol’s Exposures, Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems:
Andy Warhol’s Exposures (1979) was the artist’s first photobook, a record of his nights out and beyond, with 360 black-and-white photos of his “rich, powerful, beautiful, or famous” friends, including Bianca and Mick Jagger, Liza Minelli, Jackie Onassis, Lou Reed, Muhammad Ali, Catherine Deneuve, Marisa Berenson, David Hockney, Truman Capote, and everyone else. Warhol’s famously says in it, “I have a Social Disease. I have to go out every night…”
Capote’s celebrated novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” was published in 1958 along with three other stories: “A Diamond Guitar,” “House of Flowers,” and “A Christmas Memory.” Famously played by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 Blake Edwards film scripted by George Axelrod, Capote’s Holly Golightly is less sugar and more spice than her on-screen counterpart, regaling the narrator with shocking stories from her life as a socialite among rich men, fine dining, and the best fashions the big city has to offer. Its publication prompted Norman Mailer to call Capote “the most perfect writer of my generation” for his seductive, evocative prose.
New York poet O’Hara’s late, great collection of verses, Lunch Poems (1964) chronicled and celebrated everyday life in Cold War-era New York. It was written mostly in Times Square, where the poet went during lunch breaks from his day job as an associate curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and was published three years before the poet’s untimely death at the age of 40. Here’s a quote for flavor: “It is 12:10 in New York and I am wondering / if I will finish this in time to meet Norman for lunch / ah lunch! I think I am going crazy / what with my terrible hangover and the weekend coming up / at excitement-prone Kenneth Koch’s / I wish I were staying in town and working on my poems” (from “The Day Lady Died”). “
4. Can talk a little about the employees’ favorite books they are reading for the winter?
“I’m reading an Italian novel from the 60s, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, by Giorgio Bassani. It was turned into a great movie by the filmmaker Vittorio De Sica, but I’d never read the book. It’s about an aristocratic Jewish family in Ferrara on the eve of the Holocaust, and the relationship between the narrator, a middle-class town Jew, and the beautiful, slightly aloof daughter of the family, Micòl. But really it’s about a whole world that was lost. (And my copy’s a first American edition, with a beautiful dust jacket designed by midcentury German-American graphic designer George Salter.)
Jess is reading Jia Tolentino’s timely essay collection Trick Mirror: Reflections On Self-Delusion, which she describes as her brand.”
5. Do you have any upcoming and exciting news you would like to share in this interview.
“We haven’t done any events in the shop yet, mostly because it’s so small, but also because we’ve been waiting for the right thing. We recently acquired a nice archive of After Dark magazine, which is this very cool performing arts magazine from the 1970s, that has a quasi-queer sensibility. It promoted dance and cabaret culture in a very mainstream way, as well as theater, rock and roll, and film. Like the Warhol book, everyone was in it at one point or another: Grace Jones, Elton John, Baryshnikov, Bette Midler, David Bowie, you name it. We want to maybe do an exhibit of them that will re-introduce the magazine to readers, possibly get a writer or artist who was associated with it in some way to talk about its importance and contribution to the cultural conversation back then. We’re still in the early planning stages and thinking possibly sometime in the spring. We’ll also be exhibiting at the Greenwich Village Book Fair in February. People can sign up to our email list through our website to receive news and catalogs.”
If you like to know more about them this is there IG account:
They also have an amazing website and a shop where you can purchase an amazing assortment of books:
Thank you guys for the interview!
Until Next time!!