Are we there yet?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Saturday: The Cafe crew is piling into the Chris-Craft and running the blockade in search of Cuban collectibles


Cuba has undergone an unusual and historic transformation over the last century.


It has gone from being a three-dimensional nation to two sets of talking points for politicos, flat as the sheets on which they are printed.


Last year some Americans got to see the actual country- buildings, people, art, history, food- for a few months. Then the door was closed to them again. Cuba is the Brigadoon of the New World.


Who knows of its arts, its history in a multidimensional sense? Who knows its authors and composers and artists?


Just 90 miles away, Cuba is a part of Florida life. That’s why Rare Book Cafe is taking a day to consider the subject of Collecting Cuba.


Producer Allan Smith, who spent a week there last year, will talk about his visit to Hemingway’s home and personal library. Guest host Kara Accettola will discuss Cuba-related ephemera. And co-host Steve Eisenstein will take us on a waterfront tour of Cuban books and other collectibles, drawn from a large collection he is currently cataloguing and appraising.


Special correspondent Edie Eisenstein promises to cover what she didn’t get to say last week, when technical gremlins shut her out of the show and deprived miniature book collectors of their weekly fix.


It promises to be a lively program, and no one will look askance if you slip a little rum into your coffee.



Rare Book Cafe is streamed by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT. We feature interviews, panel discussion and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs live on Rare Book Cafe’s Facebook page, and remain there after the show.

Hosted by Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, the program features a revolving set of cohosts and regular guests including Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; ephemera expert Kara Accettola; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.

We enjoy the support and encouragement of these booksellers: Little Sages Books in Hollywood, Florida; Liberty Books in Palm Beach Gardens; As Time Goes By, in Marion, Alabama; Quill & Brush in Dickerson, Maryland; Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg; The Ridge Books in Calhoun, Georgia; and Henry Bemis Books in Charlotte.

Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtually live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.

Friday, August 11, 2017

It's a hot summer Saturday on the porch for this week's Rare Book Cafe.


It’s front porch season at the Cafe. Rather like the rural pub in Edmund Crispin’s 1948 detective novel Buried for Pleasure, where the absent-minded Oxford don, Gervase Fen, sets up as a hopeless candidate in a Parliamentary by-election.

As he attempts to master campaigning, and stumbles across both rural idiots and dead bodies, a remodel of the bar turns into an ever-expanding operation over the course of the languid summer.

Eventually the bar is moved out on the lawn, in the shade of the great elms, just in time for the entire building to collapse (among the regulars were the Busts, who loved regaling newcomers with how they named their kids Anna May and John Will; “they were not, Fen reflected gloomily, the sort of people for whom a joke quickly lost its first freshness”).

So we’ve opened all the french doors and moved out to the porch for Saturday’s Rare Book Cafe. As in childhood long past, you never know who might wander by in the cool of the day, after the first thunderstorm, and sit for a spell to chat over a coffee or a sweet tea.

Everybody’s looking forward to seeing Thorne Donnelley again. He’s been gone for ages, seems like. Traveling, you know. He’s a summer nomad, off to book schools hither and yon- which is further? We’re not sure. Maybe you have some ideas.

Anyway, Thorne’s back from a week at the Colorado Antiquarian Book School, and another at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School, and he has tales to tell. At Charlottesville, he bedded down in one of the coveted student rooms- designed by Mr Jefferson himself- along The Lawn, with Edgar Allen Poe’s restless spirit haunting the walkways, reciting the Greek and Roman orders of colonnade capitals to himself.



Thorne also had trouble with a rental car possessed, one that failed him not once, but twice, in South Carolina, and had him consulting for an auto-exorcist. You’ll have to ask him about that: I missed part of the story when I got peckish and only a fresh biscotti would do.

Steve and Edie Eisenstein will there, of course. Steve may have a new clue for his literary mystery: what was he talking about in a story that somehow connected Graham Greene, C.S. Lewis, a Greene novel’s first printing, and a lawsuit?

Edie started connecting the dots between this week hosting both International Cat Day and Book Lover’s Day, and the results- as are all her talks- will be worth the trip.

Kara Accettola has a week off from any assignments and she may just be out on the beach with a book. We’re hoping she will come in for a cooling drink and some conversation, as she gets around more than most of us and knows more interesting stuff.

Lin Thompson will be in and out. Producer Allan Smith- who has many fingers in many pies- will be off pie-fingering for some other client, leaving LTT to run the show.

This invariably gets him out of sorts. Being Associate Producer is an easy gig: just do up a one-page show outline (based on three elements: “Start, 2.30. Talk about stuff til 3.30. Stop”). Left alone, he is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice of Internet Video Programming. Stuff happens. The audio goes out. Twice, he’s had to shut the broadcast down and restart it. It accounts for that fraught look:


But if all goes well, and the creeks don’t rise, he may also talk some. He’s usually a Niagara of literary events and birthdays, though regulars have been heard to say that while they love it at a distance, they wouldn’t want to stand *under* it; and he’s also on a tear about it being the 150th birthday of the American classical scholar Edith Hamilton.

He’s also been going on about the English playwright Joe Orton going to jail for checking out and returning library books quite properly (it was what he did while had them out that so annoyed the judge), so who knows? (You all may want to pray for malfunctions after all).

In short, summer’s waning. Soon it will be September and we will have to put away the flip-flops, get a haircut, and start booking Serious Guests again.

So join us Saturday. Wear a floppy hat. Plan to set a spell.






Rare Book Cafe is streamed by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT. We feature interviews, panel discussion and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs live on Rare Book Cafe’s Facebook page, and remain there after the show.

Hosted by Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, the program features a revolving set of cohosts and regular guests including Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; ephemera expert Kara Accettola; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.

We enjoy the support and encouragement of these booksellers: Little Sages Books in Hollywood, Florida; Liberty Books in Palm Beach Gardens; As Time Goes By, in Marion, Alabama; Quill & Brush in Dickerson, Maryland; Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg; The Ridge Books in Calhoun, Georgia; and Henry Bemis Books in Charlotte.

Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtually live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

At the Movies: Rare Book Dealers with dangerous hobbies.


Rare book dealers are to movies what viola players are to orchestras: seldom heard or seen. But TCM suprised us August 8 with a Nick-and-Nora knockoff:



The third and last of a series featuring Joel and Garda Sloane, New York booksellers, Fast and Furious found them sweltering city dwellers decamping to the Jersey shore for a holiday that quickly turned bloody. The New York Times was singularly unimpressed, calling the 1939 feature " "the faintest shadow of The Thin Man–and of two collateral predecessors–is being cast by the little mystery-comedy, now at Loew's Criterion .... Metro seems to be stretching an original idea to infinity–a suspicion which is practically confirmed by the plot .... It is a perfect specimen of unoriginal attenuation .... A couple of murders, a couple of limp comedy situations and an interminable lot of chasing about leading nowhere. Mr. Tone and Miss Sothern banter through it in the manner of third-string substitutes who know that the game is hopelessly lost."

In those days you could knock off a dame, solve the murder, and be home for cocktails, all in 73 minutes. Knowing it was directed by Busby Berkeley, however, kept us wondering when the cast-of-thousands musical finale would break out.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Saturday on Rare Book Cafe: "Sometimes the very best of all summer books is a blank notebook. Get one big enough, and you can practice sketching the lemon slice in your drink or the hot lifeguard on the beach or the vista down the hill from your cabin."


One of my earliest memories is of seeing my mother in her beach chair, reading a book under an umbrella by the water's edge while my sisters and I played beside her. Of all the life lessons she taught me, that is one of my favorites: to take time at a place I love, restore my spirit with books and the beach.

-American author Luanne Rice (1961- )



August is upon us. “The month of August had turned into a griddle where the days just lay there and sizzled,” Sue Monk Kidd wrote in The Secret Life of Bees. Rick Bragg was less sanguine in My Southern Journey: “The children start school now in August. They say it has to do with air-conditioning, but I know sadism when I see it.”


The livin’ is easy, the fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high, but soon everything will take on a tired, dusty, Main-Street-in-a-Carson-McCullers-story look about it. After the afternoon thunderstorm, it’s Mr James Agee’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915.


For school teachers, August is 31 days of Sunday nights, each at 8.34 pm.


France will simply leave town for the beach.



Rare Book Cafe is doing much the same, reconvening in the seaside coffeehouse of our imagination. Saturday the 5th, we’ll be alternating between the fly swatter and the church fans Aunt Pluma forgot and put in her purse and brought home.


While others cast their eyes across the surf for messages in bottles, we’ll be looking for literary jetsam:



Folks’ll drift in about 2.30 pm on the Rare Book Cafe’s Facebook page; Producer Allan Smith will be fiddling with the video while we have a desultory chat about famous beach books of fiction.


Guest host Kara Accettola’s gonna talk about the summer of Woodstock as a lasting literary epoch aborning. Kara was not born then but knows volumes; the rest of the usuals were around but will do our best to pretend we weren’t born yet, either.


Edie Eisenstein's got in mind talking about the rise in women book dealers and collectors, domains long-dominated by men- old and getting there fast- who, before printing, would have been the Meistersingers’ guild of Nuremberg. Husband Steve, who counts among his life experiences time as a summer resort entertainment director, will surprise all with Thoughts Stevian.


Kara says there may also be “passionate rants.” Probably those will come up as we consider what authors- of any time- we’d invite to our beach cookout after the show- and which ones we’d wish were somewhere else if they showed up, unbidden.


Your presence, however, is always welcome. Join us in the chat. Send us comments. Like and share us-last week you boosted our reach to over 1600! Have your list of most companionable authors for reciting “The Walrus and the Carpenter” and other seaside fare written up and ready to share.



Rare Book Cafe is streamed by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT. We feature interviews, panel discussion and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs live on Rare Book Cafe’s Facebook page, and remain there after the show.

Hosted by Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, the program features a revolving set of cohosts and regular guests including Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; ephemera expert Kara Accettola; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.






We enjoy the support and encouragement of these booksellers: Little Sages Books in Hollywood, Florida; Liberty Books in Palm Beach Gardens; As Time Goes By, in Marion, Alabama; Quill & Brush in Dickerson, Maryland; Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg; The Ridge Books in Calhoun, Georgia; and Henry Bemis Books in Charlotte.


Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtually live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.