Unpacking My Father's Bookstore
Roth, Laurence - Susquehanna University

2013-04-11 12:15:00
Ann Arbor, MI - University of Michigan - Crazy Wisdom Bookstore & Tea Room
Duration: 01:12:44

Laurence Roth, Susquehanna University and Frankel Institute Fellow

J. Roth/Bookseller of Fine & Scholarly Judaica was a microcosm of the Los Angeles Jewish community from 1966 to 1994. It was a significant cultural space that thrived in the glow of the Jewish ethnic pride movements of the sixties and seventies, but was unable to market its uniquely broad definition and collection of Jewish literature after the resurgence of Orthodox Judaism and the assimilation of Jewish writing into the corporate book superstores during the late eighties and early nineties. Reading from his essay/memoir, Roth traces the rise and fall of his fatherís bookstore. Employing Walter Benjaminís insights into book collecting, he argues that we ought to view modern Jewish literature as a historically contingent collection belonging, like all property, to those diverse individuals and communities wealthy and passionate enough to claim ownership. Such a purchased collection and inheritance is, as Benjamin says, a disorder that only appears as order, and that each generation unpacks and rearranges on shelves of its own making.


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