Update: Kramerbooks broken window opens a door to literary wits

September 11, 2013
Until it comes down, customers are encouraged to write on the plywood at Kramerbooks in DC.
Until the new window is installed, customers are encouraged to write on the plywood at Kramerbooks in DC.

It’s true what they say: “When a drunk smashes a window, he opens a door.”

As previously reported, very early on Sept. 1, someone pushed his inebriated buddy through the front window of Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle.

Since then, the giant hole has been filled with plywood, which has given rise to a whole new venue for customer feedback. The bookstore staff has been handing out markers, encouraging patrons to express themselves. The boards are covered with bons mots like “Break (book) spines not windows.”

I dropped by Tuesday to see the replacement work. It didn’t happen, but it gave me a chance to watch the board fill up with wit.

One staff member takes issue with a slight misquote of Dorothy Parker: “She said, ‘You can lead a horticulture. . . .’ ” These are book people, after all. They expect their graffiti to be correct.

“Go on,” a man named David says, offering me a fat black pen. “You’ve never tagged anything, have you?”

“Do I look like I have?”

“Well, no,” he admits.

It’s been an expensive adventure in spontaneous remodeling. The stop-gap plywood solution cost $1,300 — and that was after running out of wood and dashing over to the hardware store for more. The new window is expected to cost $2,700. Insurance will cover most of that. But it won’t be the same.

The glass company couldn’t get a single piece as big as the original.

How big is it?

Wearing flipflops and sipping from a wine glass, David paces out the length like he’s taking a sobriety test. “It must be 12 feet by six,” he guesses. “No, it’s taller than that!” we insist. The glass company told him nobody would bring a piece of glass that big into the city.

(Washington Post/Timothy R. Smith)
(Washington Post/Timothy R. Smith)

So much for classic slap-stick scenes. . . .

The new window will be in two pieces — thicker and shatter-proof this time.

If I had the nerve, I’d take the black marker and write, “Strange things blow in through my window on the wings of the night wind and I don’t worry about my destiny.” – Carl Sandburg

Twitter @RonCharles

 

 

 

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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