During the early 1970s I worked as a clerk, and briefly as a buyer, for Kepler’s Books and Magazines, a brave and noble bookstore in Menlo Park, California. Kepler’s had an all-inclusive stock and a knowledgeable staff. It was a friendly place, and it was considered the best bookstore on the San Francisco Peninsula.
Kepler’s was also a gathering spot for the counter-culture. And there was a lot of counter-culture back in the early 1970s, what with the antiwar protest movement, black power, gay pride, women’s liberation, and the human potential movement, not to mention the sexual revolution. Some of that summer’s best-sellers were: Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Joy of Sex, Be Here Now, The Pentagon Papers, Open Marriage, and Another Roadside Attraction. Customers who frequented Kepler’s Books included Joan Baez, Ken Kesey, Stephen Stills, Jerry Garcia, and Wallace Stegner.
That was a great store, and those were fine times. Eventually the time came for me to revisit my bookselling days in the early seventies, and bring them to life in a novel. That’s what I’ve done with my newest novel, Hooperman, which will be published later this year by Oak Tree Press. Of course I made up a fictitious plot, invented a fictitious bookstore, and staffed it with fictitious characters, so you won’t be reading about Kepler’s Books and Magazines. But I hope you’ll enjoy browsing the aisles and hearing from the denizens of Maxwell’s Books in Palo Alto during the summer of 1972.
It’s far too early for me to be flogging a book that won’t be published for months to come. I promise not to brag about it week after week. But since I now have a contract in hand, and I’m thrilled about it, I want to give you an advance peek at my new novel’s plot:
Hooperman Johnson is a tall, bushy-bearded man of few words. He works as a bookstore cop, catching shoplifters in the act. It’s a difficult job for a man with a stammer, but somebody’s got to do it, because Maxwell’s Books is getting ripped off big-time. And, more and more, it looks like the thief works for the store.
Who’s stealing the books? Martin West, the foul-mouthed nutcase in charge of shipping and receiving? Millie Larkin, who hates the boss because he’s a man? Could it be Lucinda Baylor, the black and sassy clerk that Hoop’s in love with? Jack Davis, the socialist, or Frank Blanchard, the anarchist? Or maybe even Elmer Maxwell himself, the world-famous pacifist bookseller?
Set in the summer of 1972, the summer of the Watergate break-in, Hooperman is a bookstore mystery without a murder, but full of plot, full of oddball characters, full of laughs, and full of love, some of it poignant, some of it steamy.