I wrote yesterday about being all awestruck at this year’s American Academy of Arts and Letters awards event. It was an opportunity for me to chat with other people who care about punctuation, grammar, and beautiful sentences, not to mention what happens when they all come together behind a spine. I need to mention one more lovely thing that happened twice during my literary conversations.
Upon mentioning I was from Milwaukee, two different people asked me about Schwartz/Boswell Books. They knew about Daniel Goldin, and clearly appreciated what a special thing we’ve got going here. Now these are fancy book publishing people, one of them someone who edits one of the most renowned U.S. fiction writers of the day (I don’t want to drop names but — Jonathan Franzen).
I was happy to say I live just around the corner from Boswell Book Company and run into Daniel, its proprietor, all the time. It was a heartbreaking moment in our city’s history when Schwartz Bookshops closed down after 83 years in business and after bringing (it must have been) tens of thousands of authors to the city for readings, signings, talks. But Daniel stepped in to keep the Downer Avenue shop open, renaming it Boswell and retaining that funky little guy in the logo. The Downer shop is as wonderful as ever. Daniel is one of the most amazing readers I have met (a point made by one of the fancy NY people, too). He still brings scores of writers into town. Titles and authors and imprints just tumble out of him. Give him a word and he’ll give you a list. Travel. Romance. Squirrels. Corduroy slacks. He’s a lovable presence on NPR from time to time, and writes a great blog. My boss and I recently took him out to lunch so we could pick his brain about book events (we have a project in the works) and he gifted us with a generous helping of his considerable experience.
Thank you, Harry and David Schwartz for the years you gave us. Thank you, Daniel, for giving us more of those years. Because of you, I can go to luncheons in New York, say the word “Milwaukee,” and talk about books instead of football.