Originally posted on The Algonquin Books Blog.
ASHEVILLE, NC — Let me set the scene. After a night of sleepless anticipation, you’ve started your road trip and have been driving for a few hours. You’re feeling a little foggy from the night, but you’ve now arrived in beautiful Asheville with its intimate downtown streets perched delicately on a hill surrounded by tree-covered mountains. You park and right when you’re ready to step onto the streets, you hear a burst of thunder and the sky falls open as if it has just been waiting for this moment. Dreading the cold rain, you start to doubt everything. Maybe this road trip was a terrible idea. Maybe you aren’t meant for an adventure. Maybe this is a bad omen.
Well, this is exactly what happened to Lucky. But as doubt was overwhelming him, I pushed Lucky through the doors of Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe and within seconds the combination of cheerful, fun-loving booksellers, beautiful displays, and a pillar decorated to look like a tree put the green back in Lucky’s eyes and the excitement back in his veins. All would be OK in the hands of Malaprop’s.
Events Coordinator Alsace Walentine was kind enough to sit down with me and answer our Algonquin questionnaire (of sorts) for The Lucky Tour.
•When did Malaprop’s first open?
June 1, 1982
•What inspired the name Malaprop’s Bookstore?
Mrs. Malaprop was a character from Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals who constantly misused words. And, as the founder of Malaprop’s (Emoke B’Racz) moved to America from Hungary and learned English at the age of 17, she had quite a few run-ins with misusing words. The name is a playful reflection of that.
•What is the rarest/oddest book on the shelves right now?
We currently have a copy of Kathryn Stripling Byer’s poem collection titled Southern Fictions. There were only 100 copies of it made because the covers were fabricated from the remains of Confederate Flags.
•What is the rarest/oddest non-book item on the shelves right now?
Probably the collection of magnetic finger puppets going along the side of our staff favorites shelf.
•What is your favorite hand selling recommendation for the summer? And what is your favorite hand selling Algonquin title?
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked in the store?
One of our booksellers, Lauren, was asked if Malaprop’s was part of a Wiccan community. When she politely responded that we weren’t, the customer asked her if she knew of any Wiccan gatherings in the area. She did not.