Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Utah Book and Magazine

Utah Book and Magazine
327 S. Main Street, Salt Lake City, Utah

Keeping me entertained during my hour-long visit was the owner, Peter, and his sidekicks, Queer Bob and a guy who went nameless, never being addressed and rarely getting to speak.  I'm telling's almost indescribable. 

Hearing this guy [Peter] rail on every tiny incident of the day was priceless, just absolute gold.  A lot of the vitriol was directed at their absent acquaintance "Mike" who was nonetheless addressed in the second person.  They weren't quoting previous conversations, they were talking TO the guy as if he were there.

"You're gay, Mike!  You need to come out of the closet, man."
"Get your head out of your ass, Mike!"
"Get your priorities in order, Mike."
"People are trying to help you, Mike.  You've got to get off your ass and meet them halfway."

review by David R., Yelp

Last month I visited Salt Lake City to attend a conference on the grounds of the University of Utah. I took the light rail downtown to South Main Street. After first stopping at the presentable Eborn bookstore on South Main, where the slim selection of sf paperbacks all were grossly overpriced, I went south a few blocks and crossed the street to Utah Book and Magazine, a legend among used bookstore patrons, and patrons looking for sf, fantasy, and horror paperbacks, in particular.

When I first stepped into the underlit interior I thought I had intruded into a hoarder's place of residence. The entire shop is crammed with books and paraphernalia such as magazines, old toys, comic books, and, in a clearly marked side room, vintage porn - !

I found two lengthy shelves devoted to sf and fantasy paperbacks. Needless to say, there were lots of Piers Anthony, Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert books, but a little bit of searching also revealed gems of hard-to-find books from DAW, Del Rey, Ballantine, Panther, and Sphere. Over the course of two days I left Utah Book and Magazine with 12 great books, for which I paid about $28. And I hadn't even spent any time at the horror and general fiction shelves, nor in the comic book section in the back of the store 

As the reviews (including one by the author of the 'Too Much Horror Fiction' blog) at Yelp reveal, part of the magic of shopping at Utah Book and Magazine is listening in to the conversations between the owner and his wife / girlfriend, and various hangers-on. 

While I was paying for my books a vagrant (one of the many making their home on the streets of downtown Salt Lake City) tried to come into the store, but Peter quickly booted him out with a loud and declarative 'WE'RE CLOSED !' After that, Peter launched into a monologue about how the goddamn winos are always trying to come in to the store to either get out of the elements, or pee, but never to actually purchase a book.

The bottom line, is that if you are ever in the vicinity of downtown Salt Lake City - if you're at the airport, and you've got 3 or more hours to kill before your flight - then hop on the Green Line Light Rail car at the airport, get off at the Gallivan Plaza Station on South Main street, and walk a half-block south to Utah Book and Magazine. 

And if you find yourself buying more books than you can carry, well, see if Peter can get you an empty box to pack your haul in, so you can visit the post office and ship your purchase home to yourself.......

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