Wednesday, February 4, 2009

'No truth comparable to sorrow'

What a shame. The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, a Manhattan landmark for the lesbian and gay community since before the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, will close for good next month.

Ordinarily I don't subscribe to the sentimental preference for small bookstores over the big chains. All business owners exploit; that is how they make a profit. At the big stores, there are lots of workers under the same roof together who therefore have a shot at organizing, winning union recognition, and improving their wages and conditions, which precisely because of the unionization threat are generally better to begin with than at the little shops.

But Oscar Wilde is dear to me. On a visit to New York in Fall 1982, I took a long, soul-searching walk in the Village at the end of which I decided to move here from Detroit. I walked down Christopher Street to the piers and back up, and stopped in for a good long while at Oscar Wilde, and browsed and thought and bought, I believe, a book or two. Six years later, when I started dating Teresa, now my lover of over 20 years, I took her to Oscar Wilde as one of the first stops on her coming-out voyage. Over the years I've been back many times and it has always felt, cramped and dingy and understocked as it was, like home.

Perhaps Teresa and I can take a Christopher Street stroll and stop in at Oscar Wilde one last time before the end comes. I'll be sorry to see it go.