Originally posted on The Algonquin Books Blog.
Intrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. Join us for the journey…
NEW ORLEANS — So one thing I kept hearing while I was exploring New Orleans was that I really needed to check out the cemeteries.
This gave me quite a bit of pause. I was expecting some New Orleans oddities, but I had imagined them along the lines of all night jazz ragers and people making small figurines from their enemy’s hair. Weird, but not you-need-to-go-look-at-gravesites weird.
As luck would have it, Garden District Books is only steps away from one of these cemeteries. And, as they have enjoyed a long, close relationship with gothic novel specialist Anne Rice, they’ve had more than a few run-ins with lovers of the grave. During my discussion with store owner Britton Trice, I learned about one particular event where Anne Rice lay in a coffin in the nearby cemetery and was driven the short distance to the bookstore in a hearse as thousands of fans crowded around her.
It seems the strange and wonderful are just everyday occurrences when you’re in the Big Easy.
Britton Trice kept me entertained with tales of the area, but he also found time to answer our Algonquin Questionnaire.
Well, we are in the Garden District, so this was a useful way to identify ourselves. And, initially, we were a branch of Maple Street Books but, after managing the location for several years, I bought the store and renamed it to fit with the neighborhood. Now we’re a big part of the community, there are even two walking tours a day that start from our bookstore.
What is the rarest book in your collection?
We held on to a deluxe signed edition of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men that my publishing company (B E Trice Publishing) put out. We didn’t make very many copies, so that one is quite rare.
What is the oddest non-book item for sale in your store?
So, this isn’t necessarily for sale, but about ten years ago we found a blind man’s walking stick that had been left in our store. We don’t know how he got home without it, but we’ve kept it ever since in case the gentleman is able to find his way back to us.
What is your favorite book to recommend this summer? What is your favorite Algonquin Book to recommend?
Right now I’m reading The Emerald Mile, which is about three young men trying to set a record for the fastest trip down the Colorado River, and it’s been fantastic thus far. Of the books I’ve finished, I’d say that Philip Meyer’s The Son has been my favorite from the summer. As far as Algonquin goes, I’ve always loved Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons. Of the recent releases, Jill McCorkle’s Life After Life takes the cake.
Does anyone on your staff have a hidden talent?
One of our booksellers, Ted, hosts a radio show where he interviews authors. And he often gets to drive the authors to and from our events.
What is the most visited section of the bookstore?
We get a lot of traffic and interest in our New Orleans section and our island of signed books attracts a lot of attention, too.
By the way, everybody was right—the cemeteries in New Orleans are breathtaking.
Next stop: Brazos Bookstore in Houston.
*Note: The Lucky Tour posts are not in real time. David and Lucky have returned from their travels with great tales and many, many books. Stay tuned for more road stories…