“Can you believe that? A drive-by. At a book signing. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part of the job is dealing with Glenn,” Cornell says. There is affection in his voice, a touch of amusement to his deadpan. I tell him that I have only spoken with Goldman on the phone, and, for reasons having obliquely to do with the stroke he suffered a while back, he insisted that he did not want to be seen.
“I give up,” I say. “I don’t even know what he looks like.”
“He’s 8 feet tall and covered in fur,” says Levy; she herself has an inky Louise Brooks bob cut that is fetching on her. “And the claws?” she added. “Those are the worst part.”
“Oh, for God’s sakes.” Cornell gets up from his chair and strides across the room to grab a picture. In the photo, Goldman — owner of the store with the motto “Bookseller to the Great and Infamous,” where authors frequently have to book readings a year in advance because it is so great and infamous, and even then there is no guarantee that Cornell will dry-erase-marker their names into the schedule — looks like a goof. He has mouse-brown hair and glasses, and his sweatshirt says, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
“Note the puffy-yellow-print-on-turquoise fabric,” says Cornell, who then tells me about the time Goldman was invited to a formal dinner honoring Joan Didion and showed up in a too-tight white shirt tucked into brand-spanking-new black jeans. And a Snoopy tie.
“Check out my new digs,” Goldman had said proudly.
“You look great!” Cornell replied, as he surreptitiously pulled the “Size XL” sticker tag off his boss’s pants.