Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Randall Ross, proprietor of rare book store Modernism101.com, has blogged for 20×49.com on topics including architecture and public art. His latest post is about a popular local event, the annual Centenary College Book Bazaar. Photos for this post were provided by Mr. Ross.
My favorite annual Shreveport event is back: the Centenary Book Bazaar returns the first weekend of September, popping up for the 28th time at the Gold Dome from Friday, September 5, 4-9 p.m., to Saturday, September 6, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. I am passionate about a few things, mainly chicken, bourbon and books. That’s why Shreveport is such a great town for me – there’s no shortage of yardbird or whiskey. Two out of three ain’t bad — but books; that’s another story. Fifty-one weeks out of the year, Shreveport is not a Book Town.
But for one weekend each year, Shreveport is home to what is rightly billed as the “largest used book store in Louisiana.” Thank the Muses for this cultural cornucopia. Wikipedia defines the Muses as “[Greek] goddesses, the inspiration of literature, science and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.” Those are big shoes to fill, but our Muses — the Centenary Muses — wear those shoes year-round, collecting donations in order to fulfill our bibliographic dreams, stoking the fires of inspiration of every ISBN-Scanner in the Ark-La-Tex. Funds raised at the Book Bazaar are reinvested in the Centenary community, funding projects for once and future students.
Great Americans from Thomas Jefferson to John Waters have long rallied around the printed word as the common bond that binds us as a nation. The Book Bazaar is the intellectual equivalent of the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet, a perfect manifestation of the Democratic Ideal. The admission is free, there is no alcohol served, the Gold Dome is air-conditioned and there is no inappropriately amplified music. I have just described Heaven for a certain type of person. The prices are low to begin with, but everything turns half-price after 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. That includes all books, records, DVDs, VHS, CDs, cassette tapes, and puzzles too.
Archaeologists define the true character of a civilization by its unintended remains. Dedicated diggers can discover the true character of Shreveport – our collective essence – during the Book Bazaar. What does it say about us when you find an inscribed copy of Jerzy Kosinski’s Painted Bird along with Pimp by Iceberg Slim? Bring your own boxes.