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.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Whenever we have Gordon Parks' photography in stock, we file it in this alcove.
This is riverrun's section for books on photography, fine art, and decorative arts.

These aren't the photos I wanted for this post. I wanted a photograph of Gordon Parks' clothes closet, especially featuring his many pairs of cowboy boots.
Cowboy boots were not exactly a Parks' trademark, but they were definitely one of his basic wardrobe staples.
Sadly I don't have a photo of Gordon Parks' boots. A good opportunity to get one was wasted. I wasn't there and Chris, who was, didn't take it.

Chris Stephens and Wyatt Houston Day were invited to Park's apartment to look at his books a short time after Parks died in 2006. He had marvelous things in a bright, spacious apartment on the east side of Manhattan. Several of Parks' ex-wives were there when the bookmen arrived. The wives were gracious and lovely. They encouraged the bookmen to look everywhere.
In the process of looking everywhere, Chris came upon Parks' boot-filled closet. "Oh no," Chris protested when I asked if he had taken that picture. "That would have been intrusive."

I don't see it that way. Wouldn't it have been a great photo to have? So many of Gordon Parks' photos reached into the un-public parts of peoples' lives. I don't think he would have minded. I don't think the wives would have minded either.

Gordon Parks was his parents' 15th, and last, child. He was born in 1912. His parents were Kansas farmers. Gordon Parks was bursting with many talents outside the realm of normal farm life. Despite his difficult early years, Parks' talents carried him high and wide. He was accomplished. He was influential.
I knew he was a photographer - stirring photos rushing in at life and shouting out at us. He also had many other talents. Parks wrote novels and memoirs and poems and screenplays and musical scores. He directed Shaft and Shaft's Big Score. He wrote, produced, and directed The Learning Tree. He also wrote the memoir on which it's based and wrote the music for the movie.

Gordon Parks was admired for his many talents and for his wide-ranging projects. He was well liked too. He was famous for being so likable.
When Chris and Wyatt got into Parks' apartment, some things had already been sent to auction. It didn't matter. There were still many treasures and fascinating items left. The bookmen went for the many fine books. I would have gone for the boots.

memoirs by Gordon Parks:
1963 - The Learning Tree
1966 - A Choice of Weapons
1979 - To Smile in Autumn
1997 - Half Past Autumn

photography was my choice of weapons
NY Times article/obit

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