In preparation for the all-out 25th anniversary celebration that will take place at Books & Books tonight, the store created a blog (booksandbooksblog.blogspot.com), where Donna Shalala, Edwidge Danticat, Diana Abu-Jaber, Ana Menendez, and endless employees, publishers, and authors share their fondest memories of the shop. Owner Mitchell Kaplan is a key figure in most of them. Carl Hiaasen says Kaplan single-handedly put South Florida on the international literary map. Anne Rice purrs, Intertwined with every memory is Mitch himself -- his beautiful voice, his graceful manner, his generous gaze. Kaplan gives a charming, modest pshaw at these personal accolades.
Those comments are nice, but what resonates most with me is the appreciation of the sense of community thats grown around the shop. So many people have worked alongside us to create it. Knowing that weve made a difference in a city such as Miami is truly gratifying, he muses in his typical laid-back drawl. Kaplans voice is smooth and mellow -- like Tommy Chongs -- with a backbone of purposeful clarity. He can always be found prowling around the store, greeting customers with a smile and a friendly grasp of the shoulder. Hell be offering champagne-flavored recollections at tonights party, but as always, his eyes remain fixed on the future. Looking back on 25 years, it feels like a blink. Our success is a testimony to the strength of Miamis literary community. Im hoping for a very exciting next 25 years. Well celebrate that when we get to it. The bash takes place tonight from 7:00 to midnight. There will be fabulous food, live music, and, as a special gift to customers, 25 percent off all books the entire weekend.
Sat., Oct. 20, 7 p.m.-midnight, 2007