Left Bank Books, St. Louis

October 1st, 2006 | Uncategorized

I just had a lovely reunion with my old college pal Kathleen Finneran, who I haven’t had any contact with for the past 27 years. I recently found out she’d written a memoir, The Tender Land, and read it in preparation for our visit. It’s a remarkable book, one of the most moving things I’ve ever read. You should go get it this moment.

Anyhow, it was delightful to find myself hanging out with her again, all these years later. We pretty much just picked up the conversation where we’d left off. While she drove me around St. Louis and I did my laundry at her sister’s house in the suburbs. Here we are with Kris Kleindienst at Left Bank Books.

me, kathleen, kris

(Me, Kathleen, Kris.) And here’s a portion of the lovely audience at Left Bank Books.

crowd at left bank books

What a great bookstore. I’m very glad I finally got to come to it. And to St. Louis, where I’d never been before. After my reading, Kathleen and some friends and bookstore people took me to visit a local oddity, the City Museum. I can’t really describe it. It’s sort of like a cross between an art installation and a fun house. It was filled with people climbing on all these bizarre structures, sitting around a campfire outside, sliding down tubes and crawling through tunnels. Someone apparently got stuck in one while we were there—the fire department had to come to the rescue.

firemen in city museum

Here I am next to the giant underpants. Over them is a Latin inscription, Semper ubi sub ubi. Can you translate?

giant underpants

32 Responses to “Left Bank Books, St. Louis”

  1. NLC says:

    First, thanks so much for taking us along for the ride.
    These ‘blog entries from the booktour are wonderful.

    Second, in re underwhere:
    Sajo, dere dago
    Toussant busis inaro
    Nojo, demare trux
    Summit cousan summit dux

  2. TK says:

    I believe it translates to “always wear underwear”

  3. Deena in OR says:

    augh…TK beat me to it!!! 🙂

  4. god i love you people.

  5. Deb says:

    LOLOLOLOLOLOL…..and the brand name is “Big Galloot”. We love you too Alison!

  6. Okay, we’re veering wildly off course. But here’s the beginning of “Little Red Riding Hood” in Anguish Languish Your only clue is, Anguish Languish=english language.

    Wants pawn term, dare worsted ladle gull hoe lift wetter murder honor itch offer lodge, dock, florist.


  7. Deb says:

    Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived with her mother on the edge of a large dark forest. Huh??!!

  8. Deena in OR says:

    Ooooh, Deb, well done!!

  9. Deb says:

    Hope I got it right! I am just dorkie enough to “get it”.

  10. Deena in OR says:


    It’s nice to be loved 🙂 Thanks. So when are you doing a book signing in Portland???

  11. Danyell says:

    I am in awe of how dignified you look standing under such large underpants.

  12. cybercita says:

    wasn’t anguish languish a book of fractured fairy tales? i have a memory of reading it at a friend’s house. and there’s a french version, too, called the d’antin manuscripts. priceless. i gave my copy to a friend when i moved, but i wish i hadn’t.

  13. miriam says:

    & I love that the brand is Galoot!

    Literally, which isn’t nearly as funny, the Latin is “always where, under where.” Ubi means where & also there, so you can double it: “Semper ubi, sub ubi sub ubi” = Always wear underwear under there!

    I was even more of a dork in high school.

  14. K.B. says:

    so, it’s a latin pun…worthy of Betsy G!

  15. Agnes says:

    To Cybercita –
    Are you aware that the “Mots d’Heures, Gousses, Rames” book, aka The d’Antin Manuscript, has a sequel called “N’Heures Souris Rames” (Nursery Rhymes), as well as a (not quite as funny) French version?

    To anyone wondering what on earth this is all about : the “Mots d’Heures, Gousses, Rames” are actually “Mother Goose Rhymes” transcribed, rather than translated, into semi-nonsensical French, and are best appreciated by people with some knowledge of the language. A sample might make things clearer :
    “Un petit d’un petit
    S’étonne aux Halles
    Un petit d’un petit,
    Ah! Degrés te fallent.”

    Reading it out loud, quickly, in your worst English/American-accented French, should make things clear.
    Sounds as though this Anguish Languish thing does something similar, but *within* English. Gotta look into it.

    I guess I was another even-worse-dork-in-high-school…

  16. pd says:

    Something similar is available in pseudo German with the title “Morder Guss Reims: The Gustave Leberwurst Manuscripts”. For example, on the last page is a picture of a duck below which is written (in German) “the duck”.

    A short article on this technique is at http://wordways.com/anguish.htm

  17. liza from pine street art works says:

    And if you want to play six degrees of separation, Willard Espy (from the above link) was the step father of my co-editor at DYKE, A Quarterly.

  18. BLMH says:

    Those who are still wondering could try http://members.aol.com/jbjanguish/ladlerat.wav and link to other fun examples

  19. ian says:

    Sounds like a word play game called ‘holorimes’ where the sound can be manipulated to give another meaning. Check out Bill Bryson’s book “Mother Tongue” which gives a couple of examples:

    “I love you” becomes “isle of view”

    And gives the example of something that’s very close:

    How do you prove in three steps that a sheet of paper is a lazy dog?
    (i) a sheet of paper is an ink-lined plane;
    (ii) an inclined plane is a slope up;
    (iii) a slow pup is a lazy dog!

  20. kat says:

    ooh….I knew about the “d’Antin Manuscript” but not about these other sequels and related ones…..oooh, the geekery!!!

  21. cybercita says:

    hi agnes, et. al,

    no, i had NO idea that there was a sequel to mots d’heures, gousses, rames! i’m off to the strand, new york’s biggest used book store, to find it! thank you!

    i am also reminded, mostly by ian’s comment, about the fun of cockney rhyming slang. for example, “plates of meat” are feet, “trouble and strife” is wife, a “twist and twirl” is a girl.

    i have a book of these somewhere… will have to go dig them up now.

    but before i do will have to click on those websites. thanks all. it’s good to be a geek.

  22. PKintheUK says:

    At least no one has beat me to saying that it’s more of a macaronic pun than a Latin one!

  23. riotllama says:

    I thought that cockney slang was when you leave off the part that actually rhymes, making it harder for an outsider to understand. For instance, barney=trouble, because Barney Rubble rhymes with trouble.
    Hey Uk’ers whats the deal?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much for coming to St Louis. Your talk was wonderful, I really enjoyed it despite the look on my face in the above photo (second from the left, looking at the camera!).
    Good luck with the rest of the tour.

    Mardou, St Louis.

  25. anonymous says:

    Then there is the book “C D B.” It’s full of sentences like: “C D B? D B S A B-Z B!” There are pictures, which help.

  26. lea says:

    speaking of puns and storybooks…. “the 13 and 1/2 lifes of captain bluebear” by walter moers is finally available in paperback. the english translation eliminates a few puns, but still… – go read it!!! (oh, he’s the guy who drew “the little asshole”… if that’s any help)…

  27. Becky Asrai says:

    I can’t believe there are things and PEOPLE in St Louis – I went there for a conference, and wandered everywhere around but the whole place was deserted for a whole week. There were a few shops open but NO-ONE to go in them. I started thinking that I was in some sort of horror movie where everyone has disapeared for some sinister reason. There were occasional cars driving along – and yet their windows were so heavily tinited I was not convinced there was anyone inside……..

    It was the creepiest experience, so to see life and dykes and giant knickers in St. Louis is so amazingly strange to me.

  28. Kim says:

    Just finished The Tender Land on AB’s recommendation- really is a great read! Thanks for the tip!

  29. Anya says:

    Also the silly rhyme

    Osibili si ergo
    Fortibus in ero
    Nobili demis trux
    Si uatis enim causendux.

    (Oh, see Billie, see ‘er go!
    Forty buses in a row!
    No, Billie, them is trucks.
    See what is in ’em? Cows & ducks!)

  30. Anya says:

    Yeah, I meant
    “Fortibus es in ero”

  31. Judith, London says:

    Caesar adsum iam forte
    Brutus aderat
    Caesar sic in omnibus
    Brutus sic inat

    The 36 years that have passed since I sat Latin O-level have erased any ability to translate – I’m not even sure if it does but someone certainly will tell me!

  32. Alicia says:

    I have taken Latin for four years and the only things I can say are sempere ubi sububi (always where under where) and Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscripti catapultas habebunt (when catapults are outlawed, only outlaws will have catapults) both of which I learned outside the class room.