Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cottonwood

Using the excuse of waiting out the late afternoon traffic, returning from Breaux Bridge on Friday we dodged into one of the independent bookstores to pass some time in browsing. “Dudley” and I make good bookstore companions, each understanding the rituals involved and the ugly sound of someone at your elbow saying, “Hurry up.” Cottonwood Books is located on Perkins Road in Baton Rouge and is owned by Danny Plaisance, in business for twenty-six years. He keeps enough stock to hold the dedicated book browser on point for long stretches.


I went into the bookstore not really looking for anything, no clear titles in mind, nothing new at least. You know how that goes—inside the store for five minutes and three books were on a maybe list. Didn’t fare too badly though, enjoying more than an hour of picking through dusty shelves packed with treasure. Danny is especially helpful with answers and guidance through the narrow labyrinth of aisles and shelves. About one book, he looked in several different places to show me a less expensive used copy before pulling out a new and more expensive copy for $7.00. For customers with a true interest in books he is the best of owner-guides you could wish for. He knows his business.


Four books followed me out the door, one remembered in the act of walking out. Read somewhere the other day a short piece on Rudyard Kipling’s 1901 novel, Kim and had since been thinking of it, so made that last-minute purchase at Cottonwood. Also got a first edition of Richard Wright’s Black Boy, the autobiography he published in 1945. Two other purchases are under today’s spotlight.


First of the two is a somewhat shaggy copy of Lysistrata translated from the Greek of Aristophanes with Illustrations by Norman Lindsay. The classic play is one title from the Illustrated Edition series put out by The World Publishing Company. The book includes an introduction by illustrator Jack Lindsay, an author and translator in his own right. It bears no date of publication, but is either a 1931 or 1932 edition.


Lysistrata is often called the best work of Greek playwright Aristophanes. First produced in 411 BC, it tells a story of women who withhold their favors from the men in order to stop war and solve the world’s worst troubles. The idiom is never a crude mode of expression, but the playwright’s lines are lusty and ribald, describing a condition as familiar to the women of ancient Greece as it is to contemporary women everywhere.


In Lindsay’s illustration, Lysistrata, history’s first feminist stands defiant separating the men from their women.


The other surprise find was a special edition of Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh with pictures by Robert Ward Johnson and introduction by Theodore Dreiser. It’s a copy of The Heritage Press 1936 edition that includes a slipcase and the original Sandglass insert. The book has for many years been high on my role call of Best Books, and the Heritage edition is beautifully done and in fine condition.


Above shows an illustration from Chapter 49 when Mr Hawke stiffens his charges with prophecies of fire and brimstone.

2 comments:

  1. I've decided to stop saying I have too many books. Obviously, for me and others, that threshold is never to be reached--at least not until I find myself on an episode of 'Hoarders' and a TV team is telling my daughters how to empty the packed store house of neverending books, books, books, and more books.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America