We Need Studs Terkel


At the bookstore I work at, we recently got in a HUGE shipment of remaindered books. Books by Michael Ondaatje, Virginia Woolf, Alain de Botton, all of them brand-new and at bargan-bin prices. Which begs the question, do all books, no matter how timeless, relevant or HOT, eventually become remainders? I think so. It means cheap, virtually new books for me and you and I don’t know what it means for the writer, living or dead.

In any case, many of the books that came in are by the legendary and recently deceased Studs Terkel, whom the Rumpus recently talked about in early June.

Now I can’t think of any work that is more timely than Studs Terkel’s oral histories and interviews with everyday Americans who lived through our nation’s most tumultuous years. Most tumultuous years? Oh wait–I think they’re happening now. Terkel’s complete Hard Times, his oral history of the Great Depression is on sale at Red Hill for $6.98. (We also have at Red Hill Terkel’s equally incredible Race, Hope Dies Last, American Dreams: Lost And Found, and Working. All brand new, thick paperbacks, recession-priced.) Not to be confused with the massive and heavily unedited New Hard Times which remains, as we go to press, only hypothetical. And which also begs the question: who will be our new Studs Terkel? Who will collect the oral histories of those of us who survived the Bush Nightmare and are now living through the New Hard Times?

I think the Rumpus is a good place to start. What do you think?

Michael Berger is a barely-published writer and book-seller living in San Francisco. He is one of the founding Corsairs of the Iron Garters Bike Club and is currently pursuing a degree in applied pataphysics. He sometimes eats oatmeal for dinner. More from this author →