Monday, March 23, 2009

Blogging for Donations: Murder Ink

Genevieve asks:
Please post about how you ended up working in the mystery bookstore, and your time there, including any specific ruminations on Josephine Tey, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and maybe Agatha Christie - Tey and Sayers thoughts appreciated most, so if more detail on them means nothing on Marsh and Christie, that'd be fine.
I was working at a bookstore in Park Slope (Booklink, now defunct), and was the mystery, science fiction, and children's literature maven. I wrote little recommendations and put them up on the shelves. My co-workers were more into poetry and non-fiction with the occasional foray into serious literature. They wrote little recommendations, too. We sold books to Paul Auster and Andrea Dworkin...they lived in the neighborhood.

One day, I was headed up town to the movie theatre I used to work at, Loews 84th Street, to say hi to my former co-workers and maybe catch a movie. I missed my stop at 72nd (reading!) and stayed on the train to 96th to walk back downtown. And then...I saw it...

(Picture from The Gothamist) *

What is Ivy Books in this picture was a liquor store then. The red awning of Murder Ink stood out between the liquor store and a laundry. I never knew such a thing existed. A whole store of nothing but mysteries. I was in heaven.

I walked in right then and asked for a job. And bought 5 books. From Ann Romeo, who's read everything and is a walking encyclopedia of crime fiction.

I was hired a few weeks later. Jay Pearsall didn't have enough hours for me to be full-time, so I also worked for Murder Ink's sister store, The Traveler's Bookstore, down in Rockefeller Center. That was fun, but not as fun as Murder Ink.

God, I loved working there.

Eventually, I got the manager's slot at Murder Ink and began to work there full-time. I flirted with Leon, the UPS man. I wrote reviews for the catalog, I shelved books, and read more than I ever have before or since - discovering authors I'd never heard of before. I sold books to movie stars (actually, that last one was at Traveler's), and schmoozed with authors. But the best part (aside from meeting Mr. Spock) was recommending new authors to people....

And I will talk more about those authors tomorrow night, in the next chapter of Genevieve Asks About Murder Ink.

*If you watched Law & Order in the '90's and saw the episode called "Mayhem" you would have seen Murder Ink playing the part of a gay bookstore. You can spot the gun logo on signs in the background while Briscoe and Logan are interviewing Mr. Hexter's boyfriend.

2 comments:

Genevieve said...

Yay!! fun!! more coming, too!!

The first one of those actors seems like she should have a mystery written about her.

Hey, these are too recent (I think) for you to have dealt with at Murder Ink, but do you know the Enola Holmes books? Middle-grade, excellent mysteries with Sherlock Holmes much younger sister - exploring issues of women's lack of power in that era, among other things. Enola is a great character.

kathy a. said...

sometimes, wonderful things happen when one misses the bus stop! what a happy job.

and omg! kathleen turner! she played v. i. warshawski in a movie, based on the mystery series by the wonderful sara paretsky.

the closest i ever got to such fame in retail life was selling sheets to barbara feldon, who played agent 99 on "get smart."