While the words "Miami" and "literary" are two words you see infrequently in the same sentence (except, maybe, in a joke), there are increasingly frequent glimmers of hope for the city's word-lovers. The latest example: the return Thursday night of Bookleggers, an event that began, ostensibly, as a one-off last month at Lester's, brainy Miami's unofficial watering hole.
Co-founders Nathaniel Sandler and David Gonzalez conceived the inaugural event as something of a one-night mobile library and book swap fueled by beer and wine. Now, based on that evening's success, they're motivated to make it a more regular thing.
The concept is simple: Sandler and Gonzalez arrive with a base
collection to work with. You can show up with your own tomes for trade,
fork over a $2 donation to take a book "on a long vacation," or, if
you're really hard up, just borrow one on the honor system. Either way,
you can look forward to an eclectic collection made more eclectic by
last month's swaps.
"Unusual offerings are in no short supply at Bookleggers. Take, for
instance, Thomas Craughwell's Stealing Lincoln's Body, the bizarre and
absolutely true story of an attempt to rob Abraham Lincoln's grave and
hold the corpse for ransom," says Gonzalez. "Or, Josh Neufeld's A.D.:
New Orleans After the Deluge, a crazy, beautiful graphic novel about
life in New Orleans post-Katrina. The best compliments we've gotten have
been about the strength of our collection."
Last month, too, the collection enjoyed a particularly heady infusion
thanks to a donation from book-world boldfacers Ruth and Marvin Sackner,
founders of the Miami Beach-based Sackner Archive of Visual and
Concrete Poetry. "Now all of the books I donated feel like they came in
second place at the spelling bee," says Sandler.
For Thursday night, though, they've got some requests. Sandler and
Gonzalez hope to take Bookleggers out of just Lester's, eventually, and
throughout the county's various multilingual neighborhoods.
(Eventually, they say, they also hope to take the operation completely
mobile via truck.) With that in mind, consider bringing Spanish- and
French-language volumes, specifically. Otherwise, just bring material
you think Miami needs to read.
"We're firm believers that books should be shared and passed around.
It's true that sometimes that most perfect of all books will find its
way to you by complete happenstance," says Gonzalez. "But sometimes you
need a trusted friend to say, 'Here. You have to read this, now.' With
Bookleggers, we're a bit of both."
"In other words, if you enjoy French symbolist poetry, don't snatch the
totally sweet Rimbaud and trade us your mother's Harry Potter and the Da
Vinci Shades of Grey," adds Sandler. "We'll remember you."
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Bookleggers, 8 p.m. Thursday, August 23 at Lester's, 2519 NW Second Ave.,
Miami. Admission is free. Call 305-456-1784, visit