Total Pageviews

Sunday, May 14, 2023


Would you open a bookstore in the Poconos village of Honesdale PA?
Of course, you would.

GUEST BLOG / By Kelly McMasters via W.W. Norton & Co, Inc. and the Literary Hub. An Excerpt from “The Leaving Season: A Memoir in Essays.”

 “…In the weeks before we opened the bookshop, I could feel [her husband’s] interest spark. He paid attention during our conversations, stayed at the dinner table longer. He was not very interested in learning how to build an e-commerce site or keep accounting records, but he liked the idea of selling prints, of hosting art openings. He had no interest in building a gallery or showing anyone else’s work—just his. But he had the energy he’s always gotten right before a big opening, the energy of possibility, of hope. 

“Of course, I knew too well that the elation of opening night was always followed by a cliff dive of emotion. No matter the crowd or sales, it never measured up to his hopes, or what he thought his work deserved. These were simple equations; even my toddler grasped that what went up must come down. Still, I ignored that portion of the pattern, even though part of me must have known it would come; it had been so long since I’d seen that kind of fire in him, and I wanted to help sustain it. 

“It was clear to me through my midnight calculations and YouTube-trained business plan drafting that this venture would not make us much, if any, money. We wouldn’t be able to take salaries for at least three years, every dollar pouring back into the store. But, like Bill and Paul, and Jim and Laura, and so many of our friends in the country, we’d become masters of improvisation, juggling multiple side hustles that we would continue while we shared the shop hours, chose the books together, hung the prints together, maintained the website together. There would be sacrifices, but we would make them as a team. 

“At each step of our relationship, we’d seemed to get thrown off-course. We’d been in New York the day of the World Trade Center attacks and that morning had grafted us to one another. Early in our relationship, he’d had two heart attacks, one shortly before our wedding and another a few months after, just as we bought the farmhouse. We’d had to adjust our expectations and plans. We put off the honeymoon, the house renovations, travel. Then the kids came. 

"The past ten years seemed to just happen to us. But this shop—this was a fresh start, something we could plan and build together, with intention. 

“Even though every atom in my body told me opening a shop would be an economic failure, I’d hoped it would save us. I could stand a failed business; I didn’t think I’d survive a failed marriage. And so, I kept pumping the bellows, trying to keep the fire between us burning…” 


Kelly McMasters no longer owns the Moody Road Studios, the book store and art studio in Honesdale, PA that she created from a dream, but an article of how she began her shop was published earlier this century in the Paris Review CLICK HERE. 

Excerpt from the Paris Review of the days when the romance of marriage and her dream to start a book shop glowed: 

 “…So we moved to the country and opened a bookshop. What I hadn’t anticipated was the mix of envy, horror, and sympathy that crossed people’s faces when hearing this news. Fellow writers and artists would get all moony on us, share their own personal bookstore fantasy, or ask to come work for us. We were so lucky! We were heroes! But we also got the same incredulous question over and over: Why would you open a bookstore now?! I try to explain that it is a little like falling in love, that we really didn’t have a choice. The space was open, the price was right, and one morning over coffee my husband and I looked at one another and said at the same time: We’re opening a bookshop! Four weeks later, we did.” 


Kelly McMasters, left, is the author of The Leaving Season and Welcome to Shirley, an Orion Book Award finalist, and coeditor of the anthologies Wanting: Women Writing About Desire and This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post Magazine, and the Paris Review. A former bookshop owner, she teaches at Hofstra University and lives in New York. 

No comments:

Post a Comment