With libraries closed, I’ve found myself depending on Diesel Bookstore in the Brentwood Country Mart. About a month ago, I purchased three books there (“Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead,” “IQ” and “The Woman in the Window”). I had asked the staff for suggestions for mysteries in paperback. I knew nothing about any of the authors.
The first book was amazing and I didn’t know that the author, Olga Tokarczuk, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2019.
The second book, “IQ”, was written by a man of Japanese-American descent who grew up in South Los Angeles. This is probably a book I would have never picked up—filled with rapsters, druggies and an imperfect hero, who is sorting through meaning in life—but I’m glad I did and I plan to read the author’s second novel.
I’m in the middle of the third book (“The Woman in the Window”), which I started last night, and unfortunately I will probably stay up late the next two nights, just because it’s such a page-turner, I want to see how it ends.
On Sunday, I ordered two more books from Diesel, one a literary thriller from a Native American, David Heska Wanbil Welden, whose novel “Winter Counts” centers on the Rosebud Reservation, where I grew up. The second book is by author Michael J. McCann, who reviewed Welden’s book.
Then on September 8, I was disheartened to receive a letter about the bookstore from a Pacific Palisades writer:
Hope all is well with you. Thank you for picking up my letter to publicize Diesel Books in Brentwood.
Now Diesel needs more help. I know technically the store is in Brentwood but keeping it alive is very important to the Palisades community. A friend told me that there is a GoFundMe campaign.
Of course, I donated. Below is the information. I have my fingers crossed that you can plug this with the greater Palisades community.
Another local writer, Rosalie Huntington, wrote that a plea for Diesel is also being shared on Nextdoor. She wrote to Circling the News: “I fear for Diesel’s survival.”
Below is the letter Diesel is sharing with the community.
We have always seen our bookselling as an ecology of people, ideas, experiences, places and conversation. We are subject to vicissitudes, ups and downs, as part of the wider society and culture, as all of us are. But Covid-19 has had consequences like no other.
We have tried to weather this storm, with creative reinvention, hard work, and perseverance, as we always have. We’ve managed to keep our booksellers afloat financially and with the necessary health care. But at this point, our stores are foundering.
We’ve had wonderful support from our customers: ordering books, buying gift certificates, switching to us for their ebooks and streaming audio. But it is not enough, given our rent, operating expenses and our publisher debt, to sustain us.
So, we are asking for your support to restore us to a sustainable level, to make it through this taxing time. We know we are not alone in struggling to survive. Many independent businesses lack the resources and financial support to make it through this extended challenge. Many aren’t making it, and we hope not to be one of them.
We have resisted this appeal to our wider community but now we are running out of time. It is either this or ending our run as a quality independent bookstore. If there is anything you can do to help to keep us going, it would be greatly appreciated. Please contribute if you can.
If you would please share this GoFundMe with those you know, far and wide, we may be able to get the support we need. This is how ecologies work, under strain. As biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer says, “When times are easy and there’s plenty to go around, individual species can go it alone. But when conditions are harsh and life is tenuous, it takes a team sworn to reciprocity to keep life going forward.”
As Bruce Springsteen says in Johnny 99: “Now judge I got debts no honest man could pay.”
We hope to be able to pay our debts, and to keep providing great books and great conversations to our communities for many years to come. We cherish, and desperately need, your support at this time.
Thanks for all of your support these many years. May there be many more!
With Gratitude & Respect,
Alison Reid, John Evans & all DIESEL folk
Save Diesel! This store is so incredibly special.