Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Musings in a Time of Crisis XII

We will lose a lot in these next months. We've already
lost too much. One thing we don't need to lose is
our independent bookstores.
~ Dave Eggers


The  death of brick-and-mortar bookstores was, for me, something to mourn. I used to spend hours after work or on weekends browsing the many wonderful indies we used to have where I live. My son became a reader because of the example I set early and because he, too, loved browsing and selecting titles we could read together. Shopping for books now (and we know where most of us go, though this one, Bookshop.org, eventually could be a challenge to it), is just a task we do whenever we want new reading material, and even then, some of us choose e-books over those we can hold in the hand. (Not I!) And the pandemic, which requires "non-essential" businesses to close, is making things worse for still-existing bookstores and small independent presses that are asking how in the world they're going to stay in business. McSweeney's, itself an indie, is trying to do its part by creating region-specific email lists of stores needing support or becoming involved in initiatives to support stores and authors. Its newsletter includes helpful information about partnering efforts, such as the #SaveIndieBookstores campaign, which involves the American Booksellers Association, the foundation Binc, and author James Patterson; Libro.fm, which offers a code ("shopbookstoresnow") that purchasers can use to ensure 100 of Libro.fm's proceeds go the purchasers' bookstore(s) of choice; a nationwide roundup of bookstore GoFundMe pages; and live-streamed author events, such as those at We Love Bookstores, which specifically benefit indies in the Bay area. Many individuals and families face an uncertain financial future but, given the need to home-school and keep oneself occupied while sheltering-in-place, supporting indies makes good sense for everyone. (Use contact@mscweeneye.net to learn how readers can offer support. Write in the subject line "indie support".)

While we are sheltering in place, the real shelter is community.
So, no one is really alone.
~ Rabbi Laura Geller
"The Shelter of Community During the Coronavirus" at Next Avenue

In an earlier "Musings" column I wrote about a documentary about the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. Today, the online magazine Hyperallergic offered images from that time from the National Archives Catalog. See Hakim Bishara's feature "What Can Images of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Teach Us About COVID-19?"


April is #NationalPoetryMonth, and sound artist Alan Nakagawa is doing his part for poetry by launching a call for "quarantine haiku". (It's wonder to see how artists are responding so creatively to the global pandemic.) The deadline for submissions is April 16. Nakagawa will release the project, "Social Distancing, Haiku and You",  to IGTV on April 23. 


If you haven't seen online the now-viral miniature museum created by two quarantining Londoners, one an artist and writer and the other an employee of a museum, you are missing something delightful. The duo's pet gerbils seem to love exploring the art in their private digs. They do not, however, follow humans' rules; despite postings to the contrary, they enjoy checking things out with they teeth every now and then. Read a Hyperallergic magazine interview with the couple.


The U.S. Postal Service remains true to its motto of letting nothing stop it from delivering our mail. Deemed an "essential" service, it is even still issuing commemorative stamps, the latest an addition to its "forever" line: a set of 10 stamps featuring the marvelous wire sculptures of Japanese American sculptor Ruth Asawa (1926-2013). 

Ruth Asawa Forever Stamps
© U.S. Postal Service. All Rights Reserved

No comments: