• UO Journal: Farewell to All That

    Urban Outfitters is proud to present Urban Outfitters Journal, a new print publication that represents the culture and stories behind the UO Men’s brand, available now at select Urban Outfitters locations. 

    East Austin’s Farewell Books is a new and used bookshop and gallery owned by Mikaylah Bowman and Travis Kent. Farewell opened in 2013 with a focus that’s both careful and wide-reaching: art and the underground, esoteric fiction and poetry, a thoughtful combination of the accessible and the obscure. It serves as home base for the ability of books—and the act of reading—to be both wholly private and community-binding experiences. The bookstore as a symbol for thinking, progression, and conversation. “I’ve always been interested in the blurred lines of life, art, and work,” Kent says. “Farewell Books is a continuation of this for me, it is the piece and it is the platform.” Below, a conversation on artfully striking the balance. 
    Words by Leigh Patterson
    Photos by Kate LeSueur 

    You started Farewell as former employees of Domy Books. Did you actively shift the focus to be an even split between new and used books, specifically geared toward rare and collectible titles?
    Mikaylah: We work hard to research books and offer up otherwise overlooked or under-appreciated gems. Part of what we want to do is immerse readers in a selection they may have never heard of but can easily get excited about. Although we cover a wide range of genres, we curate tightly to offer—what we hope to be—the best. We treat our books like art, displaying many of them face out and paying attention to book design. There's something to be said for judging a book by its cover.

    When dealing with first editions or art books, how do you make the distinction between the value of the book as an art object and the value of the content within its pages? 
    Mikaylah: The book trade is constantly changing. With social media, it’s a much more visual market now. Young people don't simply want content, they want a spectacular looking object. It’s similar to fashion, a functional object that is also beautiful speaks to personal aesthetic. There's much to be said for the history of cover design; folks are collecting cover art in the same way that they collect various translations.

    How do your roles differ? Are there specific genres or types of books that either of you are more interested in?
    Mikaylah: I'd say that I'm more interested in fiction and poetry and Travis's strengths are in art books, especially his ability to foresee which contemporary small press art books will appreciate. Travis is really great with details, design work, and the more meticulous aspects of the business. I might think more big picture. We balance out each others weaknesses. 
    Travis: Sometimes I feel like my taste in fiction is more low-brow than Mikaylah’s. I stock underground comics, and pulpy noir paperbacks and short story collections. Mikaylah is way more versed in offbeat classic fiction, difficult reads with personal gain. As for the gallery programming, it's extremely intuitive and we are almost always on the same exact page.

    Are either of you collectors?
    Mikaylah: I collect, to an extent, but my own bookshelf at home is much like Farewell's: minimal. My favorite authors, artists, and covers are present. Some of the more esoteric finds that I'm proud of exist there, too. But I also have a lot of silly books that are exactly like the kind I'd buy up in highschool: ‘70s herbal medicine books, gem books, Daisy Ashford, alchemy for teens, I found I can't give that playfulness up. 
    Travis: I have a tendency to collect too much. I'm constantly trying to figure out what matters most to me, which is probably ever-changing and impossible to figure out. I think people collect what's in their head or in their veins, or what they wish was. 

    Reading recommendations:

    A book that’s better with a reread: 
    The Recognitions by William Gaddis

    A book to judge by the cover: 
    Naked in Garden Hills by Harry Crews (1969 William Morrow and Co. edition)
    The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You by Frank Stanford (1977 edition)

    A book you recommend to anyone: 
    Death in Midsummer by Yukio Mishima
    The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares

    A book for escaping: 
    The Torture Garden by Octave Mirbeau
    The Women in the Dunes by Kobe Abe

    A book for coming home: 
    Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
    My Parents by Hervé Guibert

    A low-brow essential: 
    A Crack-up at the Race Riots by Harmony Korine 
    Cockfighter by Charles Willeford

    A book to change the way you think: 
    Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
    Gerhard Richter's Atlas

    Read more from Urban Outfitters Journal
    Head to 2406 Guadalupe St. in Austin, TX on November 5th from 6-8pm to celebrate the opening of our newest store at UO’s Space 24 Twenty.