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Book Talk

(page 2 of 3)

Gary Hunt

“I started selling books to used bookstores in Seattle as a hobby,” says Iconoclast bookstore owner, Gary Hunt. “Then when I came to Sun Valley as a ski bum, I had an excuse to open a used bookstore. We really needed one.”

Today, the Iconoclast “empire” has grown considerably with two stores in the Valley, which specialize not only in used books, but also offer a wide selection of new releases and classics. Additionally, Hunt does a “big online business” with the used, out-of-print, and rare books which, he states, are his “particular passion.”

“Our specific mission at Iconoclast,” continues Hunt, “is to provide a quality selection of books on every subject that would appeal to and inspire a certain amount of intellectual curiosity in our customers and ourselves. The wonder and excitement of endless knowledge, so to speak. I’d like Iconoclast to recreate the Tower of Babel in the 21st century.

“Being a bookseller” Hunt laughs, “is about being a bit of a dilettante. My personal mission is to own as many books as possible . . . and read as many as possible. I like having a wide interest in a lot of things.”

Favorite books

“I’ve read a number of recent titles that I really liked, and I’m really looking forward to the ones on my bedside table,” says Hunt. “Don DeLillo’s new book is coming out in June, and I’m reading an advance copy of that, Falling Man. Nobody compares to Don DeLillo. And then there are the all-time favorites, but that’s a lengthy story.”

Hunt’s current favorite, however, is The Mystery Guest by Gregoire Bouillier. It is, Hunt says, “a well-written, lesser-known work which is attracting a passionate cult following in France.”

“It’s smart and,” he laughs, “kinda iconoclastic. It’s philosophical and literary. Also, it resonates with me personally. Every part of [Bouillier’s] thought process resonates. You can identify. It’s humbling and sometimes embarrassing.”

From The Mystery Guest

Hunt chuckles incessantly as he describes the following passage: “Bouillier goes to this party,” he says, “and blows an entire month’s rent on a bottle of wine to impress his ex. It’s hilarious.”

. . . she let herself be led into the kitchen, and just then I realized she was disappearing with the bottle of Margaux and it was all I could do not to yell out and run after her. It was my bottle, and nobody was going to open it and drink it without my permission, and next to me the person who was the whole reason for the evening’s show-and-tell just stood there not doing anything, and I gasped to her that I’d bought a grand cru and that I really hoped we could raise a toast with it together. That’s all I wanted, to raise a toast, “à nos amours,” as they say—and that was when she informed me that her friend never opened the presents she got for her birthday. At first I refused to believe it. I dismissed it out of hand. The basic mistakenness of my being there could only go so far, and everything has a limit, so naturally I assumed she was joking to scare me and rob me of the last shred of my dignity. But she was serious, and she explained that for several years Sophie had kept her birthday presents unopened in display cases that she photographed afterward, and the idea was to turn them into an exhibition someday, or maybe a book, she wasn’t sure which; at any rate, it was a kind of ritual, and she guessed she should have warned me when she called, but it slipped her mind, and it was hardly the end of the world, all we were talking about was a bottle of wine. >>>


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