A really good read by Eureka Bookstore co-owner Scott Brown about the difficulties of authentication of and the moral intricacies of selling Japanese-American internment-related documents. It discusses an auction which was protested and eventually cancelled. The issue – can the free market preserve and protect the integrity of the darker American experiences as documented through these items of value? And the issue of heritage trafficking is complicated, but the antiquarian industry is developing some thoughtful protocols.
The following passage from the article involves Jack Durham, one of the owners of Bolerium Books in SF – probably my favorite bookstore anywhere.
I asked John Durham about the contradictions inherent in selling Japanese internment camp items. Durham, the founding partner of Bolerium Books in San Francisco, frequently sells material documenting what he referred to as “the sinkholes of nastiness” in American history. Part of the antiquarian booksellers’ job, he said, is to use “the free market to expose dark ideas to the light. And to do it in a way that doesn’t glorify the dark side of history, but also makes sure it is not forgotten.”
Bolerium is on Mission Street in SF, near 18th Street. You have to ring to get in – the password is “Trotskyism to Go.” (yes, that’s a joke).
Independent bookstores are an essential American institution which really need support. I’m not against the Amazon model – it actually benefits some independents – but really, we should go out of our way to patronize those businesses. We need them.
On the issue of Japanese American concentration camps during World War II, Farewell to Manzanar – to my knowledge the only movie which deals with the issue – is available in its entirety on youtube. It is a 1970s made for TV movie, but with some surprising artistic moments (the mood when she’s breaking her china in front of the con guy who wanted to take advantage of her). It says “clips” but I think it’s pretty much the whole film.