On November 3, the Iliad bookstore in North Hollywood burned down in what appeared to be an act of arson. Boxes of books were placed in front of the back door and burned, and a manifesto was hung on the wall. Two store cats were inside when smoke began to fill the interior.
“If the fire department hadn’t been here when they said they would have been, the whole building would have been destroyed within minutes,” says Iliad owner Dan Weinstein.
“A neighbor was walking by,” says Weinstein. “They saw the fire and happened to pull a fire truck down. Luck was really on my side.”
Fortunately, the fire did not enter. Weinstein, which closed shop for a day to clear the smoke, has reopened and is working on repairs. “The fire department stayed an hour after the fire, put their blowers on our doors so they blew out a lot of smoke. If they hadn’t done that I think I would have been toast,” he says. “I can’t say enough good things about the fire department.”
Initial reports indicate the fire may have been a hate crime; Weinstein said he doubted it was. “[The suspect] Put out some kind of flyer with some kind of political agenda, but I don’t think it’s based on hate. It was just crazy,” he says.
Since news of the fire broke and the story was covered on local television, he says he’s been overwhelmed with support from customers, locals and others who want to help.
“We’ve had tremendous support; we’ve had people call from back east who heard about it and just wanted to send a book to help. The customers keep coming,” he says, adding From the day they reopened, “our store was filled with people wanting to support us.”
The store set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for repairs; With an initial goal of $5,000, the fund already has over 700 donations and more than $32,500 as of this writing.
“We had so much money that I decided to use that money for major repairs and upgrades. Because my insurance policy was actually three days old when it happened; I just passed it on. And I really didn’t. Want to claim and cancel after 3 days.
In fact, Weinstein, who comes from a line of booksellers, said he considered closing the store but couldn’t after seeing the response, which included people volunteering for services and local restaurants sending them free food. . “It broke my heart. I mean, I actually thought about closing the store, but I couldn’t do it with this kind of support,” he says.
“I come from a bookish family,” says Weinstein, who has run Iliad for 35 years. “My family owns several bookstores around Southern California, including Heritage Bookstore and Book City, Valley Book City, Book Barron—some of the biggest names in the L.A. book world. I’m the next generation, but I’ve Worked for about 10 years and then decided, OK, it’s my turn.
If you’ve ever been to a bookstore, you know it’s a good one. I’ve shopped at Iliad many times over the years, and I’ve always left interesting books I didn’t expect to find – Keith Lowe’s “Savage Continent” and Michael Moorcock’s “The Knight of Swords” being two. Purchases that come to mind. This is a treasure trove of used books, so I don’t want to just talk about fire. I wanted to talk about books, so we did.
Who is your favorite book or author? “Wow, that’s a loaded question. One of my favorite writers is Charles Bukowski. But like licorice, you either love him or you hate him.”
And what are some popular store titles or authors? “Let’s see, Philip K. Dick. Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin: they’re writers that if I put something on the shelf, it’s usually gone by the end of the day,” he adds, “Haruki Murakami is another That’s hard to keep on the shelf. James Baldwin, Toni Morrison. There’s a whole list of authors we can’t get enough of.
While I could ask questions like this all day, I thought it was time to let Weinstein get back to business, which this time involved trying to find an ozone generator to deal with the smoke smell. are
“It’s been a long week, let me tell you,” Weinstein says, keeping things positive. The cats survived; They are good. When I went into the room, it was full of smoke and they were a little scared, but we got them out right away. Currently, they are at home with me.
Weinstein, who says he plans to go thank the firefighters at the station, said he is grateful to be back at work.
“It was touching and I went there for a while when I first opened the door and saw the smoke I thought for sure the end was here,” he says.
“But I think we’ll survive.”
In ‘On Borrowing’ author Jason Gorrell takes readers on a journey into the past
Jason Gorrell is the author of several books including The Forgotten Work, a speculative fiction novel published in 2020. A cultural critic whose work has been published in Satellite, Lithub, The Atlantic, and The Walrus, Gurrel has a new book of essays, “In Search,” to be published on November 15. Part of Biblioasis’ Field Notes series, the collection explores the now-decreased practice of scouring bookstores and record stores for unexpected finds rather than scouring online retailers. You are looking. Gurrell lives in Toronto with his family.
the question Is there a book you always recommend to other readers?
A book that I have recommended to many people is by American poet and essayist Kay Ryan. She’s a great California poet who occasionally writes articles for poetry magazines and literary magazines. They were just wonderfully philosophical, charming, funny, meditations on poetry and time. I’d say if someone ever got around to collecting it, it would be an important work of American criticism. And just at the beginning of the epidemic, an interesting collection of these articles was published, “Combining Gravity.” This is a book that I have recommended to many people.
the question How do you decide what to read next?
Inevitably, I have more time than ever to read, especially with young children at home. I discover things the old fashioned way. I love a good review – newspapers used to have great book sections, but these have really shrunk considerably. I look at things in bookstores. I’ve been going down a certain author’s rabbit hole for a while, but I’ve never clicked on the ‘You might like this’ box on Amazon or anything.
With music, I love British music magazine Mojo; I still buy it and the reviews are great. They are authentic. It’s a little like having that adorable snobby record store in the palm of your hand every month. This is my source of information.
I don’t follow a ton of people on Twitter. These are critics, these are book reviews. That’s the way it is. Not scrolling through Amazon, that’s for sure.
the question What’s a memorable book experience you’d like to share?
I have re-read “Moby-Dick”. It was a book I read in university 20 years ago and I didn’t really remember it. It sounds like a silly thing to say but this is an amazing book. I wonder how strange it is. This is probably old news to a lot of people, but I think there’s a general perception of this book, and when you read it, it’s weird, weird, fun, and light. And sentence by sentence. It constantly approaches the state of poetry. I’m completely blown away by how weird this book is and how interesting it is – it’s like Thomas Pynchon in the 19th century. It’s not the great American horror classic it’s made out to be. There are definitely 200 pages about whaling or whatever, but that’s like the best 200 pages you’ll ever read. So that was my most memorable experience lately.
question Is there anyone who has influenced your reading life—a teacher, parent, librarian, or someone else?
I had really good English teachers in high school and I think that made a difference. I also had some great teachers at university, but there was something about the English teachers at this high school.
I remember a teacher in 12th grade, Miss Pantry, was an English teacher, and she wrote something on the blackboard about TS Eliot’s “The Man of Dust.” And she said something like, “TS Eliot could have just spent a month writing this.” I just remember being blown away by the idea that you could devote so much time to refining and perfecting a piece of poetry. It’s little moments like this, which were almost thrown away, that completely expanded my sense of what writing is and can be.
the question What is in your book that no one knows?
I’m not sure how to answer this in a way that isn’t interesting, because on the one hand, I’m very excited about this book, but I really didn’t intend to write this thing. I think there is some sense that I am an expert on the subject of browsing. And it was a topic that I didn’t even realize was important to me until I started writing about it. I found myself very emotional that some of the stores that meant so much to me were gone.
It was a strange experience to be asked to write this little book and to find that it meant something to me.
That’s it for this edition, folks. I hope you enjoy your weekend; I plan to travel to the Iliad and also catch the start of “Rogue Heroes,” the Epic series based on Ben McIntyre’s best book of that name.
Let me know what books you enjoy, and your recommendations may appear in the column. Please send them to [email protected]
Thanks, as always, for reading.
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