Re: Bookshop Memories

  • I mentioned having visited Garvin & Levin Books in Portland, Oregon (once). I came away with a Grosset & Dunlap edition of Rider Haggard’s Ayesha: The Return of She for $1.50 or $2 (two prices are given) on 19 September 1977. There’s a sprawling inscription on the front endpaper in brown ink from a dip pen: “I have been bothered & pestered and threatened until I gave this book to D. Quinn [or Quince] to save my head To you who dont know him, never refuse him anything that he may want. If you do you will never have a moments peace. From one who knows H. [or A.] Campbell” I’ve learned a little about Charles Garvin from someone who knew him and mention it here with permission. Garvin’s relationships with friends tended to seem strong at first but not to turn out well, and that’s what happened with Garvin & Levin. Garvin moved to Ithaca, New York, in 1980. He ran a book business there. Garvin had a superlative reference collection for the field of fantasy fiction. He left Ithaca in 1991 and moved back to Portland. There, he operated a bookshop while being financially supported by his mother. He lived in late sister’s house. At some point his electricity was disconnected. Garvin stored his books in boxes at his house. It’s said that he lived pretty much on the streets. In 2005, he died at age 59. Garvin’s mother died soon after that, and Garvin’s books were taken over by the state and sold off for a pittance, set out for sale under the shelter of tents.


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