R.I.P., Glenn Goldman

January 4, 2009 | 6 2 min read

Glenn Goldman, the owner and founder of Book Soup in West Hollywood, California, died yesterday from complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 58 years old.

I first worked at Book Soup when I was nineteen, and I returned after graduating from college. I loved the place, and I still do; it’s my favorite book store in all the world, with its towering shelves packed with books, and books behind books, and ladders to get to those books. Glenn started it all, in 1975, when my parents still lived in New Jersey, long before their lives in Los Angeles had even been conceived of. Sometimes I like to think that Book Soup was waiting, all along, to give little writer me some shelter, and an education. I am grateful to Glenn for this.

Here’s some of what I learned about at Book Soup:

Le Corbusier, Andreas Gursky, Jane Jacobs, Maseratis, Georges Batailles, David Sedaris, Patricia Highsmith, equestrian porn, Boris Vian, Gammahydroxybutyrate (GBH), Paul Bowles, Donna Tartt, Ina Garten, Joan Didion, blogs, Guy Debord, Julius Shulman, James Ellroy, wedding stylists, personal assistants, Breathless, Schlitz beer, Robert Caro, Robert Evans, Robert Greene, Helmut Newton, Paulo Coelho, the reading habits of certain celebrities, how big books can be, and how expensive, how sought after, and cool.

I met a guy named Patrick at Book Soup, and I married him.

Outside of Book Soup there are trashy girls from the Inland Empire, heading with arms crossed to a nearby club, and raving homeless men, and at the newsstand an actress is reading about herself in the tabloids. A man walks by selling puppies, maybe a waterproof radio. Inside of Book Soup there are highly opinionated, supremely well-read booksellers who want to know what five books you’d take with you to a desert island, go, and what your favorite Morrissey song is, and how many people you’ve slept with, and don’t you think I need another tattoo? Inside there are books, so many books.

And through it all, there was Glenn – shy and notoriously stubborn, but devoted to the store, his store. He couldn’t stop ordering books, even though we couldn’t fit them anywhere. But God bless him for that, because we always had what you were looking for, what I was looking for.

Glenn will certainly be missed, and his legacy, as a bookseller to the great and infamous, will continue.

More: Max remembers

is a staff writer and contributing editor for The Millions. She is the author of the novella If You're Not Yet Like Me, the New York Times bestselling novel, California, and Woman No. 17. Learn more about her writing classes at writingworkshopsla.com.

6 comments:

  1. That's so sad to hear. I didn't know him, but Book Soup is one of the great loves of my life. Thanks for posting.

  2. You've said it best, Edan. Despite all the loggerheads I had with Glenn, he must be acknowleged as the founder of a great feast that many of us gorged upon until we became too big for the room. I wish him a pastel summerland filled with adoring bobbleheaded starlets that drink up his droll wit like wine.

  3. book soup was one of the best jobs i have ever had, i met many, many close friends there and learned an immense amount about culture, politics and literature there. the stock was unbeleivably diverse and i owe a great debt to glenn for making those books available to me.

    but we can all look back with rose colored glasses on, but he was not a nice man. he installed inhouse security cameras to watch his employees, and was convinced everyone who worked for him was stealing from him. he was infamous for showing up five minutes to midnight to make sure we hadnt closed early. i cant say any of the employees i worked with him liked him.

    i understand after his horrible injury a few years ago he mellowed considerably. i did not know this man. his long suffering ex wife and two adorable children were his saving grace.

    despite glenn's shrewishness and passive aggressive nature, i will always treasure my years there and hope to god that the store is taken over by another independent proprieter.

  4. Glenn Goldman's committment to authors showed up in his willingness to give shelf space to books on consignment.That was wonderful of him.

  5. Thanks for this Edan! Just found out tonight, and will always appreciate my time and the opportunity afforded to me at Book Soup.

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