I really love this one!!
For a start, I should confess that — despite having been an English major and still considering myself reasonably literate — I have never read a single sentence by storied American author John Cheever. I’m not proud of that fact, but there it is. I have a pile of books on my bedside table. I’ll add a copy of “The Stories of John Cheever” to it right after I post this.
In any case, Golden Suits is the pseudonym of a musician named Fred Nicolaus. Indie-heads might recognize him from a duo called Department of Eagles. In the guise of Golden Suits, however, Nicolaus gives sway to his obsession with author John Cheever (the very name of the band, evidently, is taken from the last line of “The Country Husband,” a Cheever short story). Like I said, I’ve never read Cheever, but I love that this guy is so singularly obsessed that he’s devoted a project to it.
I’m late to the table on this, but in 2013, he released an eponymous album revolving around the author. The video below, “Swimming in '99,” is taken from that album. True to his preoccupation, the video portrays Nicolaus exiting Brooklyn by subway to dutifully criss-cross Manhattan on a singular mission — to buy up every hard copy of “The Stories of John Cheever” he can put his hand to.
Sure, it’s all a bit precious and not just a little pretentious, but who cares?
For fans of the vanishing Manhattan book store, treat yourself as Nicolaus dutifully visits a Barnes & Noble (the former one on 6th Avenue?), McNally Jackson in Soho, Mercer Street Books off Bleecker Street, Shakespeare & Co. on Broadway (r.i.p.), Book Book on Bleecker, Biography Books on Bleecker, Left Bank Books on 8th Avenue (wherein he finds a signed, hardcover first edition), Penn Books (in the bowels of Penn Station), — a spot on the Upper West Side I couldn’t identify — , Bookculture on West 112th Street, The Corner Bookstore on East 93rd and Madison (I grew up around the corner from this spot), the Strand Book Stalls on Fifth Avenue at the southeast corner of Central Park, Posman Books in Grand Central (soon to vanish), Barnes & Noble on Union Square, The Strand on 12th and Broadway, Mast Books on Avenue A, East Village Books on St. Marks Place and — finally — the former spot of St. Mark’s Books on Third Avenue before he heads back home with an unwieldy bag of Cheever's celebrated fiction.