Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas Eve: Mind Tricks and a First Edition

As we strolled around the old Mesilla Plaza on Christmas Eve, we recalled that a friend had told us about a book store on one of the side streets, and so we made our way to the Cultural Center of Mesilla, which houses The Border Book Foundation and hosts the annual Border Book Festival. 

We were welcomed into the charming old adobe building, once a garrison and then a store (the faded sign on the side of the building remains, stating simply "Store"). The shop consists of a series of small rooms with an uneven brick floor leading from one room to another. The owners were serving a delicious kind of Mexican coffee flavored with cinnamon, chocolate, and vanilla; they had cakes and cookies, as well, in honor of their special Christmas open house. 

I borrowed this photo from the Viva Mesilla website 
As you can see from the photo, this is just the kind of bookstore that is perfect for browsing--there were books everywhere, in stacks and on shelves and tables. They were also selling records (remember them?) as well as all kinds of art work. 

I was pretty amazed to find that the co-owner chatting with us was none other than Denise Chavez, who I've been hearing about ever since we started visiting New Mexico. She "is widely regarded as one of the leading Chicana playwrights and novelists of the U.S. Southwest" and her book, A Taco Testimony, is on my list of books to be read. 

Ms. Chavez was an extremely intense person, to say the least. She performed a kind of Jedi mind trick (remember when Obi Wan said "These aren't the droids you're looking for") on Beez, who was gently handling a copy of Pueblos, Gods, & Spaniards, by John Upton Terrell. 

Denise: This book is a first edition, and it's only fifty dollars!
I watched, expecting Beez to put the book right down like a hot potato. Fifty dollars! Good grief!
Beez, in a dreamy voice: This book is a first edition
Denise: You really need that book
Beez: I really need this book    

I was, nevertheless, surprised when I met him at the register to purchase my bookmark (it was December and we were on a budget, after all!), to find that the total came to almost fifty-five dollars. There was Denise, slipping the fifty-dollar book into a bag, and there was Beez, muttering in a quiet, but amazed and kind of proud tone to himself: I have a first edition. I collect first editions now, I think. 


Mary Hulser said...

Definitely going to read me some Denise Chavez...thanks, Clair

becky said...

Clair, that was hilarious! Perhaps he is now a collector of first editions! I am a sucker for signed books. This looks like my kind of place... well, especially given that they were giving out coffee & goodies!
Seriously, my fav bookstores are those w/ character & creaky wood floors.

Diane AZ said...

Entertaining post! I'll have to check out Ms. Chavez's Taco Testimony. :)

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

That's pretty funny. I'm glad I wasn't there or I would have been turned into a collector also.