The epicenter of Buffalo’s literary life is, not surprisingly, the Just Buffalo Literary Center. For more than 40 years, Just Buffalo has hosted poetry events and readings and supported the development of young writers. The highlight of Buffalo’s literary calendar is the annual Babel series in which four world-renowned writers take the stage at Kleinhans Music Hall to read from their work.
Lovers of Arts and Letters will also find much to admire at Buffalo’s two Karpeles Manuscript Museums. The Karpeles Library system contains the world’s largest private holdings of significant manuscripts and documents and Buffalo is fortunate to have two of these repositories of antiquarian delights, both of which are open to the public. If you love the printed page and the pleasure of being in the presence of original handwritten documents from some of history’s notables you’ll love the Karpeles Museums.
Among the most extraordinary literary treasures harbored in Buffalo is the original handwritten version of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Found in the Mark Twain Room in downtown Buffalo’s Central Library, the manuscript is the centerpiece of a room dedicated to one of America’s literary giants who spent two years in Buffalo in the 1860s as the editor of the Buffalo Express. Other Twain ephemera, collectible and editions of his books can be found in this literary shrine that will appeal to all lovers of this American master’s work.
Buffalo is also home to one of the greatest literary collections in the world: the James Joyce Collection at the University at Buffalo. UB’s Joyce Collection is comprised of more than 10,000 pages of the author’s working papers, notebooks, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, publishing records and important memorabilia. It is by far the largest and most prestigious collections of Joyce’s work in the world and the crown jewel of the University’s extensive Poetry Collection.
For book lovers whose travels always include a visit to a local bookseller, look no further than Talking Leaves Books in the Elmwood Village and Dog Ears Bookstore & Café in South Buffalo. Used book store lovers can head to Second Reader Book Shop, Rust Belt Books and West Side Stories. Look for a copy of Lauren Belfer’s City of Light and The Last Fine Time by Verlyn Klinkenborg, two of the finest books ever written about the City of Good Neighbors.
Collectors of rare books and ephemera will also want to visit Old Editions Bookshop in North Tonawanda, one of the largest antiquarian bookstores in the country featuring thousand of rare and out of print books.
Also of note: Burning Books on the city’s West Side where all manner of politically and culturally progressive books can be found.
– Ed Healy