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Book Fair Blog

Every book has a story

Every book has a story.

Check in frequently to read the behind-the-scenes scoop on the Newberry’s popular Book Fair. The blog is maintained by “Uncle Blogsy,” otherwise known as Dan Crawford, Book Fair Manager.

Avon Calling

The dinosaurs were fabricated fossils made in a lab somewhere in the Otherworld and buried on Earth to fool people into believing in evolution. They never really lived. The last six Presidents of the United States were hypnotic projections cast by ten-foot alien reptiles who actually run the governments of the world. They never really lived.

Speaking of those who never existed, today is the anniversary of the day William Shakespeare made his first appearance on paper, with the registry of his baptism April 26, 1564. (I know it’s not fashionable to talk about Shakespeare ow that the Newberry exhibit is gone, but the only exhibit up right now is the Calligraphy show, and if any of those calligraphers was baptized on April 36, this information has not been vouchsafed to me.)

There’s been a goodly influx of books lately on the non-existence of Shakespeare, or at least mocking the belief that a man who didn’t even spell his name the right way could have written Hamlet. They offer proof. Hamlet never wrote back, see, and a prince of Denmark’s letter would surely have been preserved.

It is not the purpose of this blog to examine the pros and cons of Shakespearean authorship. I have known several people who felt Shakespeare’s play were written by Lady Spencer or Elizabeth I or a committee of rebellious aristocrats. All of these people seemed perfectly normal otherwise, so I don’t see that their Shakespearean beliefs should affect their right to vote or marry and beget children. Even the one who confided “It just makes me feel closer to the plays to realize they were all written by the Earl of Oxford.” If you can read between the lines, you may find a hint as to what Uncle Blogsy thinks on the matter, but it is immaterial to you, me, or the Bard of Avon himself.

My concern, as always, is more with Shakespeare at the Book Fair than Shakespeare on the world stage. If you have shopped in the Drama section, you will be aware that Shakespeare is simply mixed in with Arthur Miller, Clifford Odets, and John Drinkwater rather higgledy-piggledy. You may have wondered, “If this is a library, why can’t he alphabetize these things?”

People who have actually had to stuff things onto a table know a bit more about it. First of all, Shakespeare comes in all sizes: the skinny 9 x 12 versions for classroom study, the mass market paperbacks for class reading, the big whomping volumes with gilt edges and decorative spine for lying in state on a book stand…they won’t fit together and play nice. Much more sensible to separate the big books from the little books and fit more into the space provided.

“But you could still alphabetize the little paperbacks!” you cry.

Of COURSE we could, chocolate Yorkshire pudding. But aside from the fact that it would add an extra day to setting up the Drama section, it is not really good marketing. One row of solid-packed Hamlet might entertain the eye for a moment, but it will not attract the passing customer. That row of Othello looks nice, but it is taking up space where we could be putting out Henrik Ibsen and George Bernard Shaw. Having the books mixed brings in the customer who already has all of Shakespeare and just wants a nice copy of Raisin in the Sun. If we alphabetize our Shakespeares, why not do the other playwrights as well? By the time we’ve made room for two rows of Death of a Salesman and a row each of Glass Menagerie and Streetcar Named Desire, the poor writers whose plays are NOT required reading have to go in boxes under the table.

And anyway, I know for a fact that Shakespeare enjoys seeing people fish among the copies of Ghosts and Fiddler on the Roof for a nice Romeo and Juliet. He told me so. Oh, didn’t you know that he’s actually an immortal born around 2,000 B.C.? I have a copy of that book around here somewhere: he brought me two copies. AND he has a website now where he reveals more True Facts. I forget what he has to say about April 26 and that baptismal register, but he’ll have an answer. They always do.

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