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The Book (Revue) Never Closes

Years ago, Leon Wieseltier wrote about the closing of his beloved music store. He wondered what the world would be like when he could no longer wander into the store and discover an album for which he did not even know he was looking. He wrote: “Browsing is the opposite of ‘search.’ Search is precise, browsing is imprecise. When you search, you find what you were looking for; when you browse, you find what you were not looking for. Search corrects your knowledge, browsing corrects your ignorance.”

Tomorrow evening Huntington’s Book Revue will close its doors.  Even before we moved to Huntington, we would pilgrimage there in search of books. I don’t know all the details about why it is closing. There has been plenty of online debates, and accusations, about how this was allowed to occur. I do know this. It saddens me. It is one more sadness piled on to a year of sadness.

There were countless evening outings when we would end up in Book Revue. Often, after finishing dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, we would walk around town. Inevitably we would find our way to the Book Revue. There we would often divide up and each go to our favorite sections. I usually ended up in the poetry section to see what new book had arrived. Or that destination might be chosen because Susie would say, “There is this book I want to get, let’s go see if it’s at Book Revue.” And there we would go, with friends or children in tow.

Or she might say, “I ordered something at Book Revue, let’s go pick it up.” Again, I would wander to the poetry section. I would flip through Denise Levertov, Maya Angelou, Billy Collins and Rainer Maria Rilke. On other occasions, I would lug home W.B. Yeats, Pablo Neruda, Czeslaw Milosz and Harold Bloom. It’s been eighteen years since we moved to Huntington.

I rarely if ever entered the store’s doors intending to buy another poetry book, yet the discoveries now line my shelves.

Other times we would go there with Shira and Ari. Each of us would find a corner of books to discover. Many times, we spent half of our time searching for each other trying to guess which corner Ari was exploring or which books Shira was now prying open. Inevitably Shira would find me among the poetry books (my location was predictable) and say, “I can’t find Eema and Ari.” And then we would search the bookstore together.

In which books would our family find each other?

Mary Oliver writes (there are a pile of her books from my years of travel):
I was sad all day, and why not. There I was, books piled
on both sides of the table, paper stacked up, words
falling off my tongue.

The robins had been a long time singing, and now it
was beginning to rain.

What are we sure of? Happiness isn’t a town on a map,
or an early arrival, or a job well done, but good work
ongoing. Which is not likely to be the trifling around
with a poem.

Then it began raining hard, and the flowers in the yard
were full of lively fragrance.

You have had days like this, no doubt. And wasn’t it
wonderful, finally, to leave the room? Ah, what a

As for myself, I swung the door open. And there was
the wordless, singing world. And I ran for my life.
The Torah nears its conclusion. Moses admonishes the people: “Fear not. Do not be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31)

“Search corrects your knowledge, browsing corrects your ignorance.” Soon we will turn again to the opening of Genesis and the beginning of the Torah. I look forward to another year of browsing its chapters.

And I do know this as well. I look forward to where this browsing might carry me.

That door never closes. My sadness is lifted.