“Myths are public dreams; dreams are private myths. By finding your own dream and following it through, it will lead you to the myth-world in which you live. But just as in dream, the subject and object, though they seem to be separate, are really the same.” — Joseph Campbell
A chance encounter with Joseph Campbell — whose books I haven’t read since college — reminded me that a small town in northwestern Iowa deserves its own myths.
When Hamish Brooke’s shop, Shelf Life, changed hands in 1960 (from his estate sale), it passed through several half-hearted hands to keep the business afloat — without much financial success. Brookes had sold books reluctantly; a book is certainly not an object of commerce, it’s something you adopt. Making a purchase from Hamish involved what amounted to an interview: Were you worthy to be entrusted with this tome? Is your home suitable and safe? His process was more rigorous than application at a social service agency. Recently, however, it has come into enthusiastic new ownership and, in the spirit of our current political discourse, changed the name to “Band Books”. Which have nothing whatsoever to do with high school music instruction. Their specialty are gently used books, of course and as before, but especially those of troubled lineage, found “dangerous” in certain parts. Turns out, it’s the “parts” that are dangerous, not the books.
Consider giving them your custom.