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Author Archive: "Bill Cotter"

The Parallel Apartments

One afternoon in the mid-1990s, I found myself in Dauphine Street Books in New Orleans, staring hungrily into a vitrine containing costly literary vertu — a first edition of Joyce's slender and fragile Pomes Penyeach, a signed copy of Lynd Ward's textless Madman's Drum: A Novel in Woodcuts, and an utterly faultless copy of Percy's The Moviegoer. From behind the thick glass these and other toothsome unobtainables mocked me: my job at the local Harrah's Casino, where I labored as an impressment specialist, a position meagerly remunerated at, if I remember correctly, $6.30 per hour, a wage entirely inadequate to the pursuit of the only book-related activity as pleasurable as reading them: collecting them in desirable editions.

I wiped the drool of bibliophily from my chin, turned away, and began to wander the cramped shop's towering aisles, looking for the books-on-books section — if I couldn't have the books I wanted, then I could at least read about them.

But the section, a shoelace-level half-shelf in a stuffy corner of the shop, had nothing tasty to offer. I was about to leave when I noticed nearby ...

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