Category Archives: American

Summer Reading

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Wine Country Books in the House! We have been back East.

Much like the cobbler’s children have no shoes, the Wine Country Books family rarely gets to read for pleasure much less purchase an actual book new in the shop.  However, in the airport on our way to catch our flight, these tireless advocates for public libraries and reduced clutter were suckered into two delicious looking paperbacks to read on the plane. Sigh.

I made it about 100 pages into Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and then moved on to Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern.

I loved Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day. Then there’s that Pulitzer seal on the front. This one has to be good, right? But anyone who has read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, watched The Expanse on Amazon / SYFY, or knows about Soylent Green (thinks they) can see where this is going. I am just not up for another round. I know I will have to skim or skip to the end, or read some reviews, to try and figure out whether to finish it up or just pass it on.

So I moved on to Summer Hours at the Robbers Library. This book requires slight suspension of disbelief- what are the chances this configuration of this type of outsider and loser will not just share space but actually get to know and come to care about each other? The first few pages were a slight slog, but keep going til you get to the library. The book is so far very satisfying in its plot and characters, with perfect levels of emotion and rate of reveal about each character’s past and problems.

Just my two cents. Either way, $30+ this reader will never get back. At least I have paperbacks to share with any reading friend who would like a copy.

Email me at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail and I will send you the Ishiguro free.

Click Below to get your copy of Summer Hours at the Robbers Library on Amazon.

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Filed under American, books and movies, British, contemporary fiction, England, free, reviews, Summer Reading, the public library, travel, United Kingdom, what I'm reading, Women writers

Music Alone Shall Live: Collections of American Song

 

Collectors, fans, and musicians may find these two works of interest.

I am watching a BBC documentary about earliest human history. The presenter suggests that what allowed European Homo Sapiens to outlive their more robust, better adapted cousins the European Neanderthals was – can you guess? – art and music. Art and music created cultural identity across broader geographic regions and for larger tribes and served to preserve the weaker, smaller brained Homo Sapiens.  With this perspective, the importance and influence of the arts for any culture has greater urgency than ever.

Song in America our Musical Heritage by Burl Ives (1962) collects 311 folk songs, arranged by Albert Hague. Even in our modern era the words of folk songs can vary widely from region to region, artist to artist, and decade to decade. It is good to have another reference, especially one so complete.

A Treasury of Stephen Foster (1946) includes historical notes that lend context to Foster’s work, including his use of themes from African slavery and minstrelsy. Cultural theft? A good faith attempt to strike universally recognizable sentimental notes of loss, longing, and fun in spite of it all?

“Foster composed about two hundred songs and a few instrumental pieces… a half dozen rank with the world’s greatest ballads; at least twenty-five of them have become American folksongs and more than fifty are well worthy of preservation.” Collected songs are arranged for piano by Ray Lev and Dorothy Berliner Commins.

If you are interested, please contact us at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail. Best wishes, and happy reading – or in this case, playing and singing.

nbpmome

 

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Filed under American, illustrated, Music

Firsts the Book Collector’s Magazine Back Issues February 1998 The Book Business is Changing

If you are a collector or book lover, you may find our vintage copies of Firsts the Book Collector’s Magazine interesting or helpful.

All are priced $7 with free shipping in the US. All are in very good or better condition.

For shipping outside the US please contact us at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail.

February 1998 contains articles including

Women of the New West – Kingsolver, Hogan, Erlich

The Firsts Guide to Grading Books Part 1 “Firsts begins its series on grading books with the best condition, very fine…”

Collecting Howard Norman – Northern Lights, The Bird Artist, fascinating stories, children’s books and translations of Eskimo and Northern Native American folk tales…

Book Hunting in Cyberspace

 

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Filed under American, book collecting, contemporary fiction, firsts the book collector's magazine

Military History January; Headcount February?

Happy New Year!

In January, 89% of Wine Country Books sales were military history books. H’m, wonder what social currents are at play at this time? Train! Prepare! Be ready!

Our first sale of February is a book of essays analyzing the way African Americans have historically been portrayed in photography.

‘Tis the season when we remember that the history and current reality of our nation, our communities, our personal lives, rests on rather poor representation for Americans who did not win the demographic lottery.

One of the low risk – high yield things we can do to ease the divisions and harm done in American society is actively seek out narratives from people we don’t hear from or see much in mainstream media.

It goes hand in hand with doing the headcount, another easy step those of us distressed about injustice can take to start getting acquainted with the who what why.

Caveat! Diversity does NOT mean equality. I am just talking about gathering information over time.

I know the in-person headcount is kind of tough when many of us live in bubbles of people pretty much exclusively just like us.  That is our bellwether that something is wrong.

Perhaps we have “that one friend” or coworker who is in a wheelchair, or aged, or of African or other nonwhite descent, or dealing with loss, chronic illness, mental health issues, gay, name it. Here’s why this is not as helpful as we might think. That one unique person cannot, does not, and probably is sick to death of people asking / expecting them to, embody or speak for the experience of the larger group.

Perhaps we were raised to see people as people. Perhaps we ourselves have struggled with poverty, with abuse by institutions or persons of power in our lives, or even attack or abuse by people from one of those groups. But humanity is humanity, and we have forgotten that, somehow, and regressed into biologically programmed behaviors without examining those behaviors’ impact on ourselves and those in other walks of life.

So you can do the headcount in a low risk, high yield way, too.

Begin to notice – how much of the news and entertainment we consume features authors, characters, or narratives about and created by people who are different from us?

If a particular group- people over 50. Women (in leadership roles or college or pro athletics, this is big). People of native, indigenous, African or Latin descent. People with chronic illness, a difference in processing or physical difference, differently oriented people- is x% of the population of a city or state or nation,  shouldn’t they be getting, at minimum, x% of representation, jobs, publication, money in the media we consume, the people we hire, the people we elect to represent us, the businesses we buy from?

It takes time to absorb. And it is easy to misstep. This is because cognitive dissonance  – constantly moving goalposts regarding okay / not okay, constant difference between the dominant narrative and what individuals experience – is the rule, the very foundation of American society for so long. Divided, a few of us stand and thrive, and the rest of us fall. And some of us have been falling generation after generation after generation.

Watch. Read. Notice. Question- do your research. You’d be surprised how much you can learn just by typing your question into Google. I got the best stuff, for example, when I typed in “Why aren’t these jokes funny?”

Synthesize or assimilate information for yourself. Take your time. Best wishes and happy reading.

 

 

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Filed under 1940s, African, American, Antiquarian, military, social currents

On Sermons, Separatists and Supremacy, or The Merry Chase Part II, 1951

This week I photographed a bunch of oldies in preparation for offering them for sale online. Old books, not old people, folks. 

Ernest Sevier Cox’s Teutonic Unity, an attractive little volume, came across my desk, and I had to take a closer look. 

 

As I learned, I thought, should I dignify this work with a blog post?

‘Racial’ separatism and the belief that those of ‘different races’ should be not just separate but often killed off completely still exist in our society, so… yes. Ick.

Cox was born in Knoxville Tennessee, home of my alma mater. A quick search reveals no known connection to the family of Cherokee-killer John Sevier, who homesteaded and populated those mountains, but perhaps Earnest’s thoughts were borne from the Indian killing generation to his mind and heart by bloodline. And on the other hand, to be fair, Sevierville Tennessee was anti slavery and anti-secession in the Civil War era. (“Sevierville Tennessee,” Wikipedia). Perhaps Earnest’s loss of his father at a young age left him emotionally stunted and scrambling for something he could believe in and fight for.  Who can’t have at least some grain of compassion for that 12 year old boy Cox once was?

And this copy is signed with a gift inscription in the careful, crabbed handwriting of a sick old man. This wouldn’t be the first time I have felt some compassion for old men isolated from loved ones and society by their misdeeds or so deeply immersed in their principles that they cannot see the truths of the human condition. The recipient passed away in Virginia in 2008, I believe. I can’t find any trace of their association other than this.

 

I lived in the South most of my life, but the verbiage he chose for his titles somehow still made my jaw drop.   

  • White America (1923)
  • Let My People Go (1925)
  • The South’s Part in Mongrelizing the Nation (1926)
  • Lincoln’s Negro Policy (1938)
  • Three Million Negroes Thank the State of Virginia (1940)
  • Teutonic Unity (1951)
  • Black Belt Around the World at the High Noon of Colonialism (1963)

He helped pass the Virginia anti-miscegenation laws that were finally and famously overturned by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Loving v Virginia. 

Cox worked with both former Nazi believers in ‘racial purity’ holed up in Argentina and Northern Europe AND with African Americans like Marcus Garvey who saw repatriation to Africa as the only way to heal and rebuild from the evils and abuses of slavery in America.  Some Americans of African descent were also against mixing and wanted the political, geographical and cultural haven from persecution that might be provided by a nation of their own. 

Toward the end of his life he self-published this volume and distributed it for free, in service to his ideals. 

The thoughts espoused by Cox and his international Nazi and Nordicist buddies are so distasteful, and as we now know in this era of genetic testing to prove ancestry, they are largely fiction. We have many skin colors. We are geographically culturally and perhaps ethnically diverse. But we are One Human Race.

I also believe ‘kids today’ are eradicating prejudice. They just couldn’t care less. Say what ya want about them, and it’s probably almost all true, but I believe they are our hope for an end, at least in developed countries, to hate  harm or marginalization of people due to traits they were born with and cannot help. Thank God.

And people self identifying as two or more races continues to be the fastest growing group on the US Census. The word self identifying is important though, because if your family has been on this continent for more than a century, you most likely have some fraction, no matter how invisible, of some oppressed group’s blood in your veins- indigenous American or African American, Jewish, what have ya.   

But while oppression continues- abuse of children, marginalization and ignorance of the culture and voices of women and minority groups, uses of our environment and natural resources that poison those who live nearby and ultimately our entire human family, anywhere a sense that we can somehow silence or overpower another group of humans in some way for our own benefit and peace of mind still exists, it is important to understand this sort of thinking and how these thoughts are ‘justified’ to keep ourselves off of certain slippery slopes. I worry that in the backlash against ‘political correctness’ we will forget why it matters.

A useful quick dose of Cox’s views and his role on the American and world stage in the White Supremacist or Nordicist movements from the 20’s through the 50’s can be found on Google Books on the scanned pages of a tome called Science for Segregation by one John P. Jackson.   Apparently Cox thought that keeping ‘races’ separate was part of survival of the fittest. Since I have always understood that a diverse gene pool helps keep recessive dangerous traits at bay- Hapsburg jaw? Haemophilia anyone?  I am not sure where he got that. I didn’t feel like pursuing it though. 

A more personal account of his lonely, angry, wandering life can be found on Encyclopedia Virginia’s website- “Earnest Sevier Cox” 

Wikipedia is, as always, invaluable for quick, concise, broad strokes on any given matter or person. “Earnest Sevier Cox”

 Someone take this book off my hands, preferably to study how to peacefully eradicate thoughts like these for good. 

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Filed under African, American, Antiquarian, History, Latin American, Signed, social currents, Southern

Must read all of these

This is the hell of the bookseller.

Today I have cataloged and placed for sale:

The Innocent, Ian McEwan– the end of the Cold War, Electronic surveillance, Berlin, British-American technology collaboration, a young British post office technician and the clash of the private and political

Defend the Valley a Shenandoah Family in the Civil War, Margaretta Barton Colt- extensive primary source documentation of the Civil War experience of the Barton and Jones family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Secrets of the Jews, Stuart E. Rosenberg – policies and persecution toward Jews throughout history – theological discussion of how they survived

The Changing of the Guard President Clinton and the Security of Taiwan – “Considering the difficult issues President Clinton must weigh, Lasater provides a timely analysis of Taiwan’s security in the 1990’s within the broader context of Sino-American relations.”

Murder by the Book: Short fiction includes stories by Dorothy L Sayers and James Thurber, two enduring favorites of mine

How will I read them all? Ah, the Humanity!

 

Music for a dreary Wine Country Morning

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Filed under American, Appalachiana, Civil War, Cold War, electronic surveillance, History, Judaica, social currents, the book business, women

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

I hope your Chanukah and Thanksgiving and any other holiday to include lazing about, introspecting, eating, being with family, escaping from family, being thankful or worrying or commemorating… I hope you are well and wish you a close of the year celebrating and remembering as appropriate,  and a fresh hopeful New Year.

Eat and drink for tomorrow we die. Not really, I hope.  My  heart is with those who struggle and hurt and my joy is in my family, mi vida. And books of course.  Give generously to the charity of your choice (find out which charities use your money the way you intend at Charity Navigator) and then remember that charity, and changing the world, begin at home. Mwah.

I have some wonderful Judaica, but Chanukah sneaked up on me this year.  I must hang my head and skip over it and go straight to my Christmas books. I will do better next year, I promise.

So here are photos of three lovely books for this year. Please contact me at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail if one looks interesting to you. More will be listed in the coming days. Warmest wishes.

Beasley's Christmas Party Booth Tarkington

Beasley’s Christmas Party Booth Tarkington

Yes Santa, there is a Charlie Brown

Yes Santa, there is a Charlie Brown

The First Christmas

The First Christmas

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Filed under American, Antiquarian, Christmas