Tag Archives: Nighthawk Books

The bookstore at the end of the universe

The snowstorm, which had slacked off late in the afternoon, started building in intensity once again right about dinnertime. The streetlights developed halos of snow and ice pellets, and the passing cars sounded more like boats than wheeled vehicles. Then just before 8 p.m., I went back to the kitchen to start another pot of coffee. When I turned one of the taps, all I got was a hollow, gurgling sound. No water.

My first thought was that I’d somehow messed up and let the pipes freeze. So I called the Pad Thai restaurant across the Avenue. The woman in charge was beside herself — they’d lost their water, too. Hard to run a restaurant without water. After about five minutes, the restaurant’s “Open” sign went out and suddenly Nighthawk Books was the only business open on the Avenue between Dunkin Donuts and the supermarket two blocks thataway.

I was thinking about locking up for the night. Brosna, a group playing traditional Irish music, was supposed to perform, but I hadn’t gotten any e-mails from them and the roads were getting risky. But they are dedicated people, and a little after 8 p.m. they showed up to play, storm or no storm.

Better still, there was an audience: two women, one from town, the other from Piscataway — one town over, but not so close that one would drive over from there on a bad night without giving the matter some serious thought. It was probably the smallest audience Brosna has ever played for, but I doubt many others could have matched it for attentiveness and enthusiasm. For the next 90 minutes or so we were a lovely island of light, warmth, and music on a dark street full of snow and ice.

But the storm wasn’t letting up, and the roads were still bad, so the band packed up a little past 10 p.m. I followed everyone out the door in order to unplug the exterior lights. I took a last look up and down the Avenue. Taking a note from Douglas Adams, I dubbed it the bookstore at the end of the universe. Then I turned off the lights and got the shovel and sidewalk salt into position for the morning, when it would be time to move all the glop out of the way.

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‘Snacks’ time

One of the shows we hosted at the bookstore, “Snacks Live,” is covered in this video clip. You get some nice looks at the store (though we’ve since whacked away the shrubbery in front of the building) and you get a hint of how much fun the kids had that morning.

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Too bad I don’t have cable

But, then again, that’s why God invented the DVD box set. As soon as Treme comes out in one, I’m adding it to The Awesome Nighthawk Books DVD Archive.

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New life, week one

So here I am at the end of the first week of my new life a a merchant, and I have to say I like it. It hasn’t been a restful week, but so far this agrees with me. The town has been without a bookstore for so long that people are greeting Nighthawk Books with open arms. It’s really been nice.

I stayed open during the Wednesday night snowstorm and had the main street more or less to myself, though the local Carvel tried to make a go of it for a few hours. The store attracted a steady stream of cabin-fever sufferers, who watched the flakes fall from the comfort of the window coffee bar. After the rush ended and the store emptied out with two hours to go before midnight, the place started to feel weird.

Then the Charlie Brown’s up the block closed and suddenly my store was full of interesting, tipsy people. A pleasantly drunk guy on his way to the Philly airport (good luck with that) had just finished The Ginger Man and wanted something in the same ballpark for the flight to Georgia. I ended up selling him a copy of Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis,  after a long chat about Kurt Vonnegut.

The Tuesday opening was a “soft” opening. This Saturday, Feb. 20, will be our all-day grand opening. So far I’ve lined up readings by Mary McAvoy (author of Love’s Compass), Jeffrey Cohen (author of several mysteries) and plenty more besides.


Here we go

Nighthawk Books opens today at noon. That’s 212 Raritan Avenue, downtown Highland Park, N.J. We’ll be open from noon to midnight, Tuesday through Sunday.

Naturally, there are about ten thousand things I should have nailed down by now, but the past two months have already been a blur of ceaseless work. Time to put this operation on its feet and see how it goes.

If you’re in the area, come on by and say hello.

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Sign o’the times

So now it’s official. Yesterday the white paper came down off the windows so the sign guys could apply the lettering. The results are there for all to see at 212 Raritan Avenue. 

Here’s what the view is like from the big blue coffee bar inside the front window.

I had hoped to be ope this weekend, but the wheels of local and county regulators have been turning rather slowly. Now it looks like Saturday, Feb. 6, will be the magic day.

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