Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman
Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.
Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.
Chris loves books.
Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
A Conversation with Stefan Kanfer - Author
Stefan Kanfer, pillar of riverrun, kept me entertained with good conversation on the train into the city today.
Shortly after he was married to May, they saw Holiday with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. The movie affected Steve.
Grant pushed away the handsome job offer tendered by the rich plutocrat and his daughter (the wrong one). "No," said Grant. "I'm not going to work right now. I'll take a year off and have a holiday. I want to take my retirement now, while I'm young and I can really enjoy it."
This sounded good to Steve. He and May quit work. They took a year off, had a holiday, and took their retirement when they were both very young and could really enjoy it. They found a great place to live in London and then after awhile went on to Paris.
"I got sick in Paris," said Steve. "Then we traveled to Switzerland and I recovered. We went on to Italy and lived in Florence. Back then, before the floods, masterpieces were out in public places. There were magnificent statues. You could touch them. No one did though. No graffiti. It was amazing to see all that art out in the open. We loved Florence."
They went on to Scandinavia where they sipped cherry herring and relished retirement. Steve wrote a play.
When the retirement was over they returned to New York. They had a couple of children, Lili and Ethan. Steve free-lanced. "It was uncertain work," he said. "One week you got $2000 - a lot of money back then - the next week nothing. Then the job at Time opened up and the rest is history."
A pretty glorious history too. Steve told about lunching with Sophia Loren or Paul Newman or Marcello Mastroianni. "It was always something interesting. Movie actors and politicians returned your calls back then. The Times had clout. Now it's different. The internet is killing the newspapers."
Steve and I talked about happy marriages.
We agreed that "call waiting" and "instant messaging" were too jarring to be worth it.
Steve bragged about his grown children. I guess we both did.
He related stories from his recent book tours. He discussed articles he was writing and his ideas for coming books.
I was sorry when the train pulled into Grand Central Terminal and the conversation was over. Steve was on his way to a writing discussion panel at the New School for Social Research. He was the biography expert.
Steve cocked his trademark hat and grinned. If Steve and Cary are typical, one thing about having your retirement young, when you can really enjoy it, is that the holiday spirit pervades the whole rest of your life. Steve went jauntily off to work.
Stefan Kanfer's books: Film 69/70, A Journal of the Plague Years, The Eighth Sin, The International Garage Sale, Fear Itself, A Summer World, The Last Empire, Serious Business, Groucho, Ball of Fire, Stardust Lost, The Voodoo That They do So Well, Somebody
Stefan Kanfer at City Journal:
Stefan Kanfer at Political Mavens: