If you went to see “The Ben Hecht Show: this summer, you saw something you might also have seen in a recent production of Tom Stoppard’s “Rock N Roll”.
Newberry Book Fair books.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes I have found myself asked for what is known as set dressing. If a scene in a play takes place in a library, or a lawyer’s office, or a professor’s office, books are required. The Book Fair can occasionally we pick up a little extra money by selling or renting out quantities of books for people to use on stage.’
(Before you ask: no, we did NOT provide the LPs and 45s they dropped from the ceiling in that “Rock N Roll” production. It isn’t to say we wouldn’t do such a thing we just weren’t asked for records.)
It’s not as easy an assignment as you may think: we have to box up the books, keeping in mind the requirements (No paperbacks. Nothing after 1930. All leather covers. You never know what they’ll need.) And we have to be ready to take them back, if that’s part of the plan. It means a lot of extra moving on top of the moving of books already on the schedule. Still, if the demands aren’t TOO excessive, we’re happy to oblige.
In fact, our services have been commanded by window decorators for Barney’s of New York (the Chicago store, natch). Some of our work can even be seen on screen, because we provided background books for the movie “Baby’s Day Out”. We get around.
In this connection, I would like to mention again the Christmas crafts books we have for sale at the A.C. (Almost Chanukah) McClurg Bookstore. There are cookbooks, craft books, and other holiday goodies just waiting for you to drop by.
What do Christmas books have to do with “The Ben Hecht Show?”
Well, were you planning to have guests over during the build-up to year’s end? If not, can you pretty much expect that some friends or neighbors will drop by whether you invite them or not? Then you might consider a little artful set dressing.
Is there someone you want to hurry on their way, when they want t linger over a cup of egg nog and a slice of fruitcake? What says “I’m busy” more than a stack of Martha Stewart Christmas Creations titles and, oh, a pair of knitting needles, or a flour sifter? If you quickly–but not quickly enough–cover up that copy of “How To Make Christmas Quilts” when Aunt Booney drops by, she is surely going to assume you are making something wonderful for you, and reconsider that box of secondhand marzipan bells she had wrapped up for you.
Maybe you have relatives who accuse you of ignoring the true meaning of Christmas. Sprinkle a few of these Nativity books around your living room. Or maybe a few copies of “A Christmas Carol”…only you know what your relatives consider the True Meaning to be. A few heartwarming Christmas made-for-TV movies, on either DVD or VHS, could lend the proper atmosphere. Your guests might even leave before their FIRST cup of egg nog if they think you’re going to force them to watch that 1950s TV Nativity, with Raymond Burr as one of the Wise Men.
It’s the set dressing: if you do enough of it, it may even work on you. Burn a bayberry candle, surround yourself with books on making Easy Cross-Stitch Holiday Pillows, and you may be moved to address and stamp all those cards. After all, any chore is better than sitting down and making pillows.
And no, I’m sorry, we can’t give you the same deal we gave Barney’s. You can’t just borrow the books and bring them back when you’re done. Waddya think this is: a library?