Left Bank Books, that Elysian pasture of literary tenderness containing the best book -for -book used and antiquarian collection of literature in the City, is moving down the block from 303 West 4th St(near Bleeker and 8th Ave.)at the end of the month- well maybe the second week of February.The new location is at No.17 8th ave near 12th St.,where in expanded space it will take over premises previously occupied by Cheri, a vintage clothes store.
Left Bank Books was a quiet used bookstore run by the redoubtable Arthur Farrier, long-time Village resident with beret and playful sense of humor, when Kim Herzinger, who had previously taught English literature at the University of Southern Mississippi, and is a leading authority and author of several tomes on Donald Barthelme, bought and rechristened the store Left Bank in Jan 2005.This followed a move to New York City and his needc for a place for his humongous collection of first editions.
I have spent many evenings hanging out at Left Bank and mixing with a collection of offbeat Village visitors, displaced mystics and body therapists from all over the US,ratty book scouts digging through trash for buried treasure , European intellectuals passing through the City, and occasional nouveau riche blondes of the West Village needing a quick $900 fix for their more literary boyfriends, all congregrating there. What a proudly diverse collection of humanity in one of the most wonderful crowded browsing spaces and where literally every volume, from the four figure gems to the Twenty-five to Thirty five dollar items,is worth savoring.
Kim has accepted a professorial position in Austin Texas at the University of Houston-Victoria, but the store will carry on - run by the swift-thinking person who has often surprised me by turning up at the most unusual book fairs in the City-with a tart comment in tow.
This area by the way is close to the former home-many years ago occupied by the late Eric Schwartz, sole proprietor of Fantasy Archives, specializing in science fiction and fantasy. Eric sold to the public by appointment and in printed catalogues and lived upstairs in a walk up on 8th and 13th in a large room packed with bookcases, where the bathtub was filled with neatly stacked volumes that reached to the ceiling.When I once dared to ask Eric whether and where he slept, he pointed to a stack of three hundred books on the center of the floor and ,upon closer inspection, I saw that a small cot lay quietly buried underneath these sovereign science fiction volumes.
It's an area steeped in book history, even aside from the characters described in Ron Sukenick's legendary Down and In,a literary history of Downtown NY to be reviewed in these pages.
May Left Bank carry on its glorious traditions forever!