Radical Bookselling: A Life of Moe Moskowitz, Founder of Moe's Books; Doris Moskowitz 0692726160

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Radical Bookselling was published in August 2016, so it's not exactly a new release. For those of us here at the store, however, it's always topical. Every other day someone comes in reminiscing about visiting Moe's in the "old days"; they always have something to say about Moe. What they have to say usually involves his cigars, his music, or his boisterous personality. "I knew Moe" could be the unofficial store motto, with how often you hear it. And it seems nearly everyone did.

The East Bay Times calls him the "the most memorable by far" of the figures of Telegraph Avenue in the 60's and 70's.

Doris, the author of the book and the owner of the store, told me that she wrote it because she got tired of waiting for somebody else to do it. The impetus came when she was asked to give a talk for the Berkeley Historical Society: preparing for the talk (a history of Moe's) was a lot of work, and by the time she was finished with it the book had already begun.

The unexpected story within the biography of Moe, Doris says, is the story of his first wife and Doris's mother, Barbara. Despite the fact that Moe's had, in the words of Aaron Cometbus, "a macho vibe, an ever-present male energy", Doris says Barbara was the power behind the throne. She did the books, paid the bills, and ran the show behind the scenes. According to her, she was the one who made Moe into a successful businessman.

Whether you knew Moe or not, only Doris's book will show you Moe as she knew him. As his daughter, she ought to know.

---Francesca Honey, Bookseller, Moe's Books

 

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"Moe embodied radical politics, radical theater, and radical bookselling. We will bring the story of my larger-than-life father and his epic store into view in this colorful volume about him and his place in Berkeley's history. He put some fun into being an intellectual and helped democratize literacy."- Doris Moskowitz

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The book, designed by Gregoire Vion, includes over 150 images, posters of events, important happenings on Telegraph Ave in the turbulent 60s, and Moe with his trademark cigar.

Radical Bookselling shares for the first time ephemera from Moe's riveting life before he came to Berkeley in 1955. The book also contains an essay about Moe as Ubu Roi, the character that he played in the first American production at the Living Theater in New York City in 1945, and another explaining a customer's pivotal experience in the iconic store that Moe began building 1959.

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Doris Moskowitz was born in 1966, the youngest daughter of Moe and Barb Moskowitz. One of her sweetest memories is of being at Moe's in what they call "the old store," two doors down from the current store, listening to her mom read The Cricket in Times Square. "The children's books were right down there in the basement with the records. Great music was always playing around Moe, just like at home."

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After graduating from Mills College 1990 with degrees in English and Music, she began working with her dad at the legendary Berkeley store he founded in 1959 on Telegraph Avenue. Now it is Doris who operates Moe's Books, keeping her father's legacy alive.

"Perhaps I am a fool to sell books in the year 2016, but I am a devoted custodian of my parents iconic shop which I think of as more of a sibling than a business."

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