Update 4/9: The comments section of this article has been hijacked by a single individual (with one IP address) attempting to present Malaprop’s as hated by the Asheville community by commenting under multiple fake names. While he’s certainly entitled to his opinion, all of the following users are the same person: Dale Andrews, Don Reynolds, Ralph Sanders, Annie Talbot, Clement Fitzgerald, Quinton Delgado, Sarah Chalmers, Dawn Peters, and Darren Cunningham. I can also say, as a native North Carolinian, Malaprop’s is a beloved institution by every writer and reader I know who lives in Asheville.
Last month, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed the “bathroom bill” known as HB2, preventing cities and local governments in the state from providing employment or public accommodations protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
It’s a policy decision straight out of the Middle Ages, motivated by ignorance and fear. As a result, major corporations like PayPal are canceling plans with the state, with good reason. But at least one writer is taking a stance on the issue by canceling his upcoming events in North Carolina. Here’s Sherman Alexie:
While Alexie’s intentions are laudable, by canceling his readings and signings, he’s hurting local, independent bookstores who rely on the starpower of authors such as himself for financial sustainability.
One such bookstore, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, N.C., a staunch opponent of HB2 that has championed human rights, tolerance, and free speech for decades, has reached out to ask authors not to follow in Alexie’s footsteps:
Although we very much respect the reason he cancelled, the result is that we have lost an opportunity to connect this charismatic, inspiring author with those young readers who were going to see him on school visits. We also lost the opportunity to host him at a large venue, which would have connected him with fans in a city that stands with him and could have used his support. Our event could have served as a platform to address an audience that would be empowered by his outrage. We lost all these opportunities, and we are suffering financially because we anticipated selling 300-500 copies of his newest book, Thunder Boy, Jr.
If more authors boycott NC because of HB2, we will be financially stricken. We sympathize with their stance, but we hope that authors will choose another way to protest. By protesting in this manner, targeting bookstores, they are directly hurting their fiercest allies. Please don’t abandon us; we need your support now more than ever.
Punishing local bookstores for the stupidity of their state legislature is almost as myopic as HB2 itself. Authors, choose another form of protest. Do not abandon your fiercest allies. North Carolina needs your voice now more than ever.
Adam Morgan is the founding editor of the Chicago Review of Books and the Southern Review of Books. His essays and criticism have appeared in The Paris Review, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine, and elsewhere.
When I lived in Asheville, NC, I loved Malaprops books. It was one of my favorite stores!
Malaprop’s is for tourists: They take forever to get in new titles, have a very shallow selection, and are generally a very poor and unresponsive bookstore.
Reblogged this on Bijou Annie and commented:
Not to generalize here, but people who actually read books tend to be accepting of others.
Not to generalize here, but people in Asheville who read books don’t tend to shop at Malaprop’s.
I disagree. All must suffer when the leadership fumbles so badly, as Pat McCrory has done time and time again–he and his cronies do hurt local business, but they also hurt state business, and they also hurt state reputation for years to come. It’s all bad. I would not single out bookstores specifically for punishment, and I really, really hate to see my state fall so far from grace in its national reputation. But there is a price to be paid when a super-polluting governor who has been savagely yanking the vote away from minority communities and gerrymandering racially in an illegal manner, now engages in a huge unethicical power grab to roll back gains that North Carolina cities and towns have made for many decades now. There is a price to be paid. When we hurt enough, this terrible, terrible corrupt governor will be ousted, but not until then. Until then, everyone must bear the brunt of his stupidity.
Maybe Malaprop’s should spend less time whining about their community…they have NO community: Malaprop’s caters to tourists, not to local Asheville residents. Their selection is one-dimensional and meager, with no depth, creativity, or insight: Just a cliched set of self-help and spiritual books that are basically a cliched stereotype of the Asheville ethos. Having lived in Asheville for some time, I can tell you that no one who lives here shops there…
“Having lived in Asheville for some time, I can tell you that no one who lives here shops there…” Um, no you can’t- I live in Asheville and I shop there- don’t presume to speak for others who you do not represent
Well, that makes one of you. Perhaps you aren’t much of a reader. If you were an active reader and cultural enthusiast, you’d notice that they take forever to get in new titles, have a laughable depth of titles, and tend to specialize in only the most stereotypical “Asheville” style titles. If I need a fourth book about the the sexual politics of my organic garden, I’d go to Malaprop’s. If I want a wide, thoughtful selection of fiction and non-fiction titles, I’ll go elsewhere. And I do.
I’ve lived within walking distance of Malaprop’s for years, and I’ve maybe bought two books there…
It’s so nice to hear someone else say this! I was so excited when I first discovered Malaprop’s when I moved downtown…then I realized that they are pretty lazy when it comes to staying current and curating interesting books. I remember waiting over a month for them to get in a copy of Kim Gordon’s autobiography, for instance. Even though I live just steps away, I tend to order from Amazon or go out to the B&N on Tunnel Road just because Malaprop’s rarely have the books I want to read.
PS – I love that the one person who liked ashevillerez’s post is from Chicago – further proving that Malaprop’s is for tourists.
Except I’m not from Chicago. I’m from Asheville.
Then maybe change your bio. Currently it reads “Adam Morgan is an award-winning writer, editor, and adjunct professor in Chicago.” Either way, I’m talking about full-time Asheville residents – not folks who come down to visit their parents twice a year. No one I know who live in Montford or downtown shop at Malaprop’s…its anemic selection and snail’s pace took it out of the running years ago. I tend to go to Mr. K’s, Downtown Books, the Barnes and Noble on Tunnel Road, or Battery Park Book Exchange – all of which offer better browsing and a more intriguingly curated selection.
Some people who live in Chicago are from other places.
You’re missing the point, Mr. Morgan, which is that, regardless of its geographical coordinates, Malaprop’s is a pretty lousy bookstore.
I’m kinda relived to hear that authors are cancelling events at Malaprop’s. The events are the only good thing about that store, as their inventory selection is pathetic. Now I don’t need to worry about driving in from West Asheville and finding parking.
Well, matters of geography don’t really change the fact that Malaprop’s is a half-assed bookstore that probably should have gone under years ago.
So, if you’re from here, you probably don’t need us to tell you that Malaprop’s is a weak, weak store…
“Dale Andrews,” please stop spamming this comment section pretending to be multiple people. I can see the IP address for each comment, so I know that Dale Andrews, Don Reynolds, Ralph Sanders, Annie Talbot, Clement Fitzgerald, Quinton Delgado, Sarah Chalmers, Dawn Peters, and Darren Cunningham are all the same person. Whatever your issue with Malaprop’s is, take it up somewhere else.
You have to admit, they’re all pretty solid character names, though.
To be fair, the selection at Malaprop’s is at least as good as a mid-market airport bookstore.
Who needs selection when you have smoothies? C’mon people priorities!
Right! For smoothies and funny magnets, Malaprop’s is great.
…when is someone gonna open a great bookstore in West Asheville? Like a Harvest Records for books? Asheville has a bunch of great used book store, but no quality store that sells new books. I think of Malaprop’s more as a giftshop…
It doesn’t really matter which bookstore, the point is this stupid bill hurts ALL NC bookstores.
Malaprops is a great indy bookstore, but when it comes to boycotting, well, even the good get burned. I hate to say it, but I support Alexie on this. Even though doing an event at Malaprops would be supporting an institution that is the antithesis of everything McCrory stands for, sales tax from his book sales would support NC. Other state taxes would be paid when he checked into a hotel, ate at a restaurant, flew into an airport. Since you can’t pick and choose how to support one institution in NC without supporting the backwards institution that NC is becoming, it’s an all or nothing proposition.
Misanthropic sociopaths aside, Asheville is fortunate to have a store like Malaprops. As an Asheville local, I’ve learned the town is home to many more personalities than persons, as evidenced in this comment section. Some are healthy, and some are desperate and juvenile, with unclear boundaries between them, often abounding in a single resident. Asheville is a place where you can find yourself, no matter how many of yourselves you may have lost.
Please put a BIG sign in your window indicating your store’s rejection of this hate filled bill & demand its repeal. This boycott is not going away and will only strengthen. The stronger the boycott, the quicker the repeal. Good luck!