The Last Days of the Gotham Book Mart
Eric La Prade
to the issue 8 page
I was drawn to book stores like the Argosy on 59th Street and Park Avenue, Gryphon Books on the Upper West Side, and the Gotham Book Mart, which I only began to frequent on a regular basis during the mid-1990s. When used bookstores on the West Side and in Chelsea began to go out of business, I frequented the Gotham Book Mart a little more, two or three times a month. . .
The Gotham Book Mart over the years sold and distributed Charles Henri Ford’s literary magazine’s, blues and View. I first met the poet at a book party in Saint Marks Church in the spring of 1998, when he was eighty-nine. Previously, I only saw photographs of him published in two books that my girlfriend had in her library. The first was titled When Paris Was a Woman, a cultural and literary study/history of a circle of lesbian intellectuals living in Paris after World War I.
The second book, Published in Paris, is a history of European and American modernist books and magazines published in Paris between the wars. Ford realized he would have to go to Paris because some of the best modernist writing was being published there and also because of Gertrude Stein’s presence. During 1930, Ford and his friend Parker Tyler wrote a gay novel called The Young and Evil, and when Ford went to Paris in 1931, he took the manuscript with him for two reasons: to get Gertrude Stein to endorse it and to find a publisher. He obtained Stein’s endorsement and the book was published by Obelisk Press in 1933, the same press that published Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer in 1934. But Ford’s book was banned because of its blatant presentation of homosexual themes and characters. Five hundred copies of the book were confiscated by U. S. Customs and destroyed. The notoriety launched Ford’s literary star as a writer in Europe and America.