Here at Jersey City Free Books, there are thousands of titles that are waiting for you to open them. Like the tide, hundreds ebb and flow each week. Something I find interesting (And I’ll be the first to admit that I — a riot incited by the then LeRoi Jones — cut my eye teeth on MacBird and was weaned on WFMU — have a particular point of view.) — akin to Sherlock Holmes’s dog barking in the night — are the books that aren’t here.
Norman Mailer — A great author with a career spanning some sixty years, celebrity blending into towering cultural figure and one of the really new practitioners of New Journalism. Besides a stray volume of his political campaign reporting, the ONLY book by Mailer that’s ever graced the shelves of Jersey City Free Books is Harlot’s Ghost (copies of which regularly come and go). This is not only Mailer’s worst book, but it qualifies as one of the worst books ever written. I can only imagine that ol’ Norman had some pressing tax or alimony bill and was by which compelled to clear out every half-baked and rejected short story from his file cabinet by hanging it on a CIA frame.
Yukio Mishima — His influence reverberates through Japanese Culture, World Literature, the Martial Arts, Physical Culture and even World History. Translations were best sellers in the US and the Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea was made into a movie starring Kris Kristofferson and Sarah Miles. Not a single book by Mishima has ever been seen at Jersey City Free Books.
Anthony Burgess — Very popular author, especially in the ’70s, of many books, most importantly A Clockwork Orange — still a strong seller today. No books by Anthony Burgess are now or ever have been at Jersey City Free Books.
Jerzy Kosinski — Another hugely popular figure from the ’70s, one who for a time nipped at Mailer’s New York City celebrity heels. Kosinski wrote (assembled?) Painted Bird, a profound work. He also wrote Being There, a popular book and an even more popular movie. To date at any rate, seek Jerzy Kosinski at Jersey City Free Books and you will not find.
I mentioned the shelves in search of certain authors to someone and she remarked, “Gee, you get to see all the trends.” I do have credentials to prove proficiency in pattern recognition. Actually though, the truth runs closer to Afterword’s John Massett’s observation that, “In your stories, nothing makes any sense. In the old Jersey City, nothing used to make any sense.” In Jersey City PG (PreGentrification), with no place for pretense in the budget, things just were the way they were.