Dolores's Reviews > No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
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's review
Feb 13, 12

Read from February 09 to 10, 2012

There are a lot of them out there. Everyman heroes--men who accomplish great things; inspire and touch lives. They frequently do so with no fanfare or spotlight. This is the story of one such man. I really enjoyed reading about Lewis Michaux, who had a bit of a rocky start in life, but who eventually found his niche selling books. In Harlem. Where people told him books were not exactly a high-demand item. But for nearly forty years his bookstore was the "third place" of Harlem, a center of culture and debate, and touched the lives of many. Due in no small part to the man himself, who seemed determined to put books in the hands of every passer-by, even if they had to pay on time, or just come in and read them in the back room, like the store was a library. The story is told by alternating narrators, which gives it the feel of vignettes. Obviously a labor of love on behalf of the author who is Lewis' great niece, and does a great job of letting us inside his life, warts and all. Great pictures and illustrations keep things interesting, and there is a lot of back matter illustrating all the research done for this fictionalized account.
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