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A Bestiary of Booksellers (Cometbus #56)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Big ol' softie Aaron Cometbus is back to tell us a tale about a group of crusty, grumpy and loveable New York City booksellers.
Paperback, 112 pages
Published 2015
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Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Cometbus #56: A Bestiary of Booksellers.

An A to Z trip through the world of the New York bookseller scene, as reported by Aaron Cometbus in this 2015 edition of the long running punk zine.

What can I say about this? I have been a fan of Aaron and the Cometbus ‘zine since I was a teenager, though I’ve fallen off reading his work, while he has been working nonstop for over 35 years now. When I read Cometbus, I am reading from someone who has always inspired me as a writer. He has always epitomized
Ryan Mishap
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I believed that I loved books, but I really love stories. Aaron truly loves books and became a used book seller in New York. That's an understated phrase, book seller, because it is a life--and this volume is about those that life attracts. Cleverly framed by the A is For, B is For chapter titles, this is well-written, smart, engaging, and wide-ranging. Recommended.

Some years back Aaron put out a call for those invested in DIY publishing to stay true, essentially. That too many of the most
Charles Brownstein
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece. Cometbus' vivid prose captures the eternally fading dynamics of New York, bookselling, and romantic pursuit with a keenly observant eye and a great deal of sweetness. A wonderful counter to The Loneliness of the Electric Menorah, which explored Telegraph Avenue bookselling against the author processing his parents' deaths, Bestiary shows him settled into a self made maturity in the milieu of his choosing. Yet this is all under the surface, for Cometbus is nothing if not curious ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This makes me miss the Gotham Book Mart. Cometbus’ writing gets better and better with age.
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating look into the characters and m.o.'s of New York used book dealers. I learned so much! The weird thing is that I don't know any of my friends who would enjoy it as much as I did.
Jak Krumholtz
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Man I forgot how much I love Cometbus. (I've read over forty of them) This one stands out and makes a great place for someone to be introduced to him. (Even if it's typed and not meticulously handwritten like he used to do.) Such an enjoyable read about booksellers.
Jeff Buddle
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For every letter of the alphabet, Aaron Cometbus introduces something new about NYC booksellers. And not just your run-of-the-mill bookseller --no not Mr. Cometbus-- he introduces us to the world of street booksellers, those bearded grumps selling treasure troves of tomes on fold-up tables. Aaron was once one of these itinerant sellers, so he knows well the scoop.

But dig, lest ye miss it. This is really a love story. A thread runneth through it. Aaron may be introducing us to the venerable Adam,
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's been too long since I jumped into the world of Cometbus. This edition dedicated to NYC booksellers could not have come at a better time for me, having just gone through a bought of spring book selling myself. I'm a book lover and book geek and so this story about the unique, passionate, "bearded" curmudgeons who are the legendary booksellers of the streets of NY was a great read. Makes you look at the profession of bookselling a little bit differently and it also makes you realize that ...more
McGrouchpants, Ltd.
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great! Typical, atypical Cometbus: the more he flees his Berkeley upbringing, the more he keeps them safe, not unreal, and within his grasp. A great lesson to all of us about how to "keep it real" not by stasis, but by active questioning, and growth. Oh, and by the way: this zine's an important document of NYC booksellers, going back a generation-or-two, that you'd never have heard of barring some New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly article, which'd never happen, or some long-form 200+ pages work, ...more
David Macpherson
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A look at booksellers in New York. Not the tweedy kinds, but those who sell on the street on card tables and root through old houses and waiting in line for Church and Library Book Sales to open. It is a great introduction to the world and Cometbus writes well as always. But this is a lost world, and he doesn't address that too much. A lot of the story takes place around the dollar book racks outside Gotham Book Mart, which has been closed for nearly a decade. Kindle and ebooks are not mentioned ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: g-music-zines
I continue to be in awe of Aaron Cometbus' command of language and ability to tell stories (or anthropological/sociological reports if you prefer) in short, seemingly unrelated bursts that build up to more than sum of their parts. A Bestiary of Booksellers is his poignant introduction (to us) of the people — men, women, friends, lovers, adversaries — alongside whom he loves, searches for, gathers, reads and sells books in New York City. Human and lovely.
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever worked in a bookstore, known someone who has, or just love bookstores and hunting for books, read this. It's an insider's look into a world I didn't know existed--NYC street book vending--told by a legendary zine writer who is also a street book vendor. He has a passion for what he does, and an inspiring open-mindedness about his fellow vendors and the world in general. Even if he does occasionally pee on the shoes of customers.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: zines
Classic Cometbus. Cheesy, but irresistible. Comfort reading for aging punk intellectuals.

Before reading this, I had no idea that Aaron had sold books on the streets of NYC, nor had he opened a brick-and-mortar bookstore there. Though I did enjoy his writing about bookstores in previous issues.
James Payne
May 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, zines
Oof, the sentimental treacle in this one. Last lines:

"I asked 'Have you found the meaning of life out here on the dollar racks?'
It was a joke, one that should have fallen flat. Instead Franny surprised me.
'Yes,' she said, with a knowing smile. 'As a matter of fact, I have.'"
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another great Cometbus. Here we enter his milieu and discover a strange cast of characters and the conditions in which our beloved used books emerge, trade and finally disappear - along with those who (in so many ways) trade in them.
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you like Cometbus stuff, you'll like this. I liked it quite a bit more than the issue before. Colorful characters against an interesting setting with just a bit of cliche and tired punk references. Solid.
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Everything you wanted to know about the booksellers trade.
Sep 13, 2015 rated it liked it
I had spent years not bothering to ever pick an issue of Cometbus. I guess now I know what I was missing.
Dec 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, zines
As the title suggests, this is really just a compendium of characters, almost entirely male, set against a backdrop of a gentrifying New York. No real plot to speak of, fairly standard Cometbus fare.
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fans of Aaron Cometbus won't be disappointed with this circuitous, cantankerous, and unavoidably lovable anthropology of the used book trade in NYC.
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love Cometbus.
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I mean, not his best but Cometbus can even make his obsessions an interesting read.
Kevin B
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May 27, 2015
Eric Anderson
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Apr 19, 2017
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Oct 11, 2018
Mike O'Shaughnessy
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Oct 10, 2017
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Aug 05, 2015
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Sep 02, 2015
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Feb 15, 2015
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Apr 13, 2015
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Aaron Elliott, better known as Aaron Cometbus, is a drummer, lyricist, self-described "punk anthropologist" and author of Cometbus, a seminal punk rock zine.