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Obituary: Remembering Stuart Teitler

Longtime Albany resident Stuart Teitler died last week. If you knew Stuart, please share your memories in the comments below this post.

Stuart Teitler was my cousin. He died this past week at the age of 71. Sadly, he took his own life.

Stuart was quite a character. He was a world-renowned book collector whose passion was Lost Race Fiction.

He was a pretty good tap dancer too. I saw him at the “old” . He loved music and dancing.

He could write, and he could draw. He had a lot of friends at .

I wasn’t very close to my cousin, but I loved him.

Stuart is survived by his sister Terry, his brother Robert, and his cousins Steve, Jackie, Alan, Arlene, Stan and me.

There will be a memorial for Stuart on Sunday, Jan. 29, from 2-6 p.m. at The Pub in Albany.

Please add your memories of Stuart to this post. Many of you knew him better than I, and I know you really miss him.

--Cousin Edward, Albany, CA

Suzanne Zeman January 22, 2012 at 09:34 PM
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Stuart-Teitler/333229616698861 Stuart Teitler, age 71, a long time resident of Albany, CA passed away last week. He was a collector and scholar of fantasy and mystery from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially lost race fiction, and was a source of information to many in the rare books world. He owned and ran Kaleidoscope Books on Solano Avenue in Albany for many years. In addition to his mastery in the domain of rare books, Stuart was a dancer extraordinaire, and local legend on the dance scene. He invented a form that he called “tapcussion” – a meld of percussion and tap dancing. He himself was a blend of Fred Astaire and Bojangles, and loved the old Latin dances – mambo, cha cha, cumbia, tango. Women waited in line for the opportunity to dance with him. He was also an artist, having had some formal training, but mostly drew for his ardent collectors what he called “tame sex fantasy” – delightful vignettes taken from his imagination and the local bar and dance scenes. He will be missed by his friends for his humor and unique way of looking at the world. Stuart is survived by his sister Terry and brother Robert. A memorial gathering will be held for Stuart at Schmidt’s Pub on Solano Avenue in Albany on Sunday, January 29th from 2 – 6 pm.
Salamander Drake January 23, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Sad it is. He and I spent many hours at Pub discussing books, book stores, bibliographies, book dealers, women, music, art, politics, religion, the nature of life, a mysterious part of the anatomy called the "hinga binga" (which I am still unable to locate in Grey's), the legendary Jocko's Sweat Palace of East Oakland, the Gafulnik sisters, Hidea and Repulsa (if you have to ask, it's best not to find out), and how civilization reached its pinnacle and perfection in the 1950's. Without his presence Pub is a little less interesting and a little bit grayer. If he is somewhere now, I truly hope that he's happier and at peace.
dan webb January 23, 2012 at 06:22 AM
I've known Stuart since the mid 1970's & bought many fantasy books from him I started as a collector & then started my own business selling old mystery books. We got together on mondays or tuesdays over many years discussing bizarre fantasy books, mystery books, movies & music. He was a bit obsessed with very tall, robust women. (his amazons) He was also bitter about what he perceived as his lack of success & money. Yes, he did not make a huge income but he had escaped the drudgery of having a regular 9-5 job. I would remind him of this every week in between his rants. We liked many of the same books, both mystery & fantasy. Stuart was an extreme specialist who would not accept the path that the world was taking. I don't believe that he ever did laundry for himself or knew how. I have fond memories of his lightning quick ping-pong games with his brother, Robert. We especially enjoyed listening to Art Tatum Trio records together. He couldn't keep still.-Berkeley,-Dan Webb
Don Snyder January 23, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Stuart, Stuart, why did you do this? I first knew about Stuart when I received a copy of the last book catalogue he sent out before he moved to the west coast. This was probably in the early 1970s. Stuart's enthusiasm for old fantasy, especially lost race fiction, was contagious. I became a fanatic collector of early fantasy, especially world catastrophe fiction, and variants, and am still collecting today. I visited Stuart many times over the years, and continued to buy books from him until he stopped selling. In the latter years, I would call him every week or two, and we would talk old fantasy books. Stuart really looked forward to these talks. Some of his friends would regularly send him books to feed his reading habit. Stuart was one of the 'greats' in the old fantasy book selling business. He found and sold a huge number of some of the rarest books in the field. For like minded collectors, his catalogues were wonders to behold. He greatly enriched the lives and collections of some of the greatest collectors of old fantasy. In addition to selling old fantasy, Stuart was a collector of lost race fantasy. I saw his collection of American, British and Australian titles. With the exception of a handful of titles, he had EVERY lost race title ever published from the beginning to the then,present day. His was one of the great, early fantasy collections. I will miss Stuart and our old book talks. Stuart, RIP, my friend. Don Snyder, Ridgecrest, So. Calif.
Ed Fields January 23, 2012 at 07:48 PM
From Ned Claflin Stuart Teitler was a dear friend of mine. He was a unique book dealer, and a towering figure in the world of older fantasy literature. Stuart was the greatest book scout in that field the world has ever seen. His knowledge and love of his field were unmatched. His visual memory for books was amazing - he remembered every book in the field he had ever handled. Stuart was also a tremendously patient teacher. He firmly believed that a book dealer must educate his readers and customers, and he did so with a clarity and passion that was hypnotic and compelling. Stuart was one of the most obstinate and difficult eccentrics one will ever meet. But he loved what he loved, and he was wonderful in sharing his spirit with his friends. He was also one of the funniest men I ever met; to his friends his drolleries are legend. He was a graceful man physically, tall, impossibly lean, dreadful in his diet, too fond of cigarettes, usually dressed in soiled 1970s pimp clothes with a filthy beret, and he was nuts for dancing, at which he was expressly talented. And Stuart is surely in the record books for complaining about life. Stu was not particularly comfortable on planet earth, and thank God there were books and dancing. That way we got 70 years of a comet human business with fire, genius, and no respect for the impossible. With great love, and the highest respect and admiration for the great Stuart Teitler from Ned Claflin
Tom Whitmore January 25, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Stu (as he was calling himself back when I knew him) was one of the major influences on me as a bookseller and collector. He taught me a lot about paying attention to each book and what was going on with its various points. He was the first antiquarian bookseller that I ever got into serious book conversation with, when I was a teenager and he was in his 30s. I hope that I've been able to pass on a little of his love of books and passion for getting the information about them Right to another generation after.
Dover January 25, 2012 at 06:04 AM
This is heartbreaking news. Stuart was one of the smartest people I have ever had the privilege to meet. His depth of knowledge and his range of interests were awe inspiring and mind boggling. He was also a hoot and a half with a sense of humor that could knock you off your feet. He had friends from every walk of life and while he could be a bit of a curmudgeon at times, beneath the surface his soul was patient and generous, kind and loving. Somewhere in Heaven there is a pub with a back room. Rare books line the walls. The periodicals are always up to date. Tito Puente plays there every night. No one is bothered by your cigarette smoke or your hastily put together thrift store outfits. The salami and cheeseburgers are always on the house. Everybody gets along. All the women are majestic and gorgeous with ample rear ends. You never pay for your own drinks. Stuart holds court in one corner. When he talks, everyone stops to listen and when he dances, even the angels can not help but smile. Rest in Peace, Stuart. You will be deeply missed. I hope to see you again one day.
William Matthews January 25, 2012 at 07:30 AM
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150491143946475&set=a.10150491139836475.363941.618771474&type=3&theater some pics of Stuart in this album William Matthews
Emilie Raguso January 25, 2012 at 07:48 AM
Thank you for sharing this. Would it be all right if I add the photos to this story?
Emilie Raguso January 25, 2012 at 07:51 AM
Details on Facebook about the memorial: https://www.facebook.com/events/344202265604465
William Matthews January 25, 2012 at 10:03 AM
I got to know Stuart when Bill Hoffer and I started voyaging down to Berkeley to visit Peter Howard at Serendipity Books. It was 1977, and Stuart had Kaleidoscope Books on Shattuck Avenue next to Serendipity. The store was filled with strange and wonderful old fantasy books. Sometimes Stuart would play his Timpani drums far too loud in the store, after hours, enraging the landlady! Over the years I had the honor of finding and supplying some of the notorious rarities on Stuart's Lost Race want list, including THE QUEEN OF APPALACHIA (1901), UNDER THE AURORAS (1888) and NOAH'S CONFESSION (1898), the latter two of which are still, I believe, known in only one copy each! Sadly, Stuart was forced by economic pressures to sell his book collection. The stock went first, then the British and Australian books. Finally the American collection was sold to Serendipity in 1998. It fell to me to compile the catalog of it, a daunting but very instructive task. We tried for years to keep the collection intact, but never found a buyer for it, and eventually it was broken up. Stuart had a keen appreciation of, and a genuine love for, those books. The discovery and history of each volume had a story, and I heard most of them more than once. He was a rare person, cranky and uncompromising in many ways, but a good friend and a great bookman. And he knew how to have fun! I still carry his final want list around with me ... anyone seen a copy of CLARIS; A NOVEL (Neale, 1903)...? No? Ah well.
William Matthews January 25, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Sure, no problem.
Sarah Baumann January 25, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I am heart broken to hear the news that Stuart has passed. I was the booking agent at the Ivy Room for many years and I always enjoyed talking with Stuart, watching him dance and and seeing him freak out the hipsters. I now live in Austin and just received the news via text message from Bill (old Ivy Room owner). I'm saddened by the loss and even sadder that he didn't ask for help. R.I.P. Stuart, you will forever live in my memories...
Bob Brown January 25, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I first met Stuart in 1970 when I first got into selling used books. I went over to his house in Berkeley, at the advise of other booksellers, to see what he had. There I met the passionate, whacked out, amazing man who was a burning with enthusiasm for early Science Fiction and Fantasy. Books that most people didn't know existed. We became good friends and along with another collector I met at Stuart's, Bill Hopkins, we regularly terrorized used bookstores throughout the Bay Area on Saturday book hunts. We occasionally double dated, back in the days when he was still married. Stuart's boundless enthusiasm extended to jumping out the car on book hunts while the car was still moving. Because of his fanatical interest in early Science Fiction, I called him the 'Soloman Kane" of used booksellers and scouts. He loved it. He stayed with me when he came to Seattle, after I moved there in the mid 70's. Stuart was one of the most unique individuals I or anyone else will ever meet. No one who ever met him forget the experience. He was responsible for my interest in early SF, and partially for my becomming a rare bookseller. He influienced more lives then he ever knew, and we shall never see his like again. He was a complete original on or off the dance floor. The world is a duller place to live without him... Bob Brown
Rebecca Renfro January 25, 2012 at 09:43 PM
What a guy! There was no place like the (old) Ivy Room. Thanks largely in part to its wonderful cast of characters, Stu being the most colorful. I loved dancing with him. He made you feel like Ginger Rogers no matter how drunken and clumsy you might be. He was always a gentleman with just the right sprinkle of lasciviousness. His book collection was amazing. We became friends and I was lucky to visit him at home on a few occasions to look at his collection of books and his art. Such great memories. They broke the mold when they made him. I'm bummed to hear the news and the circumstances. I just don't get it. RIP, Stu.
Emilie Raguso January 25, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Thank you! I just added the photos.
DAVID ARONOVITZ January 26, 2012 at 04:16 AM
I also knew Stuart well and besides visiting him at his home in Albany on several occasions (where 17 new life forms could be found in his toilet bowl at any given time), we indeed went out on a week long scouting trip together in the Midwest. It was a learning experience and he taught me the wisdom of looking for odd titles & publications. His unique catalogs listed quite scarce & rare titles (many of which I fear did not find a home quickly). I often chided him to change the name of his business to "Voice in the Wilderness Books." He laughed at the suggestion. He sincerely felt that the authors & titles of the books he loved to locate, read and sell were indeed quality items; the fact that they were simply not reviewed and thus did not become popular could not be attributed to the writing and ideas of the author, but by the biases of the media. Stuart not only had more rhythm than any other the bookseller of the 20th century, he also had the shpilkes! He could rarely sit still. Even the eagerly shared joint we had before we took off on our week long Midwestern scouting trip, didn't keep him from constantly moving one body part or another. England may have had it's "Singing Detective, but we had the "Dancin' Antiquarian!" David Aronovitz
Ed Fields January 29, 2012 at 02:34 AM
From : EUREKA! ...A Survey of Archaeological Fantasies & Terrestrial Utopias Kaleidoscope Books, Catalog #29, 1975 By Stuart A.Teitler Not so long ago when the world seemed a little bigger, man could comfortably dream of terrestrial lands much better than his own. “Better” mean many different things to many different authors. To some it meant socially reformed lands, others sought to picture countries far advanced in the mechanical sciences. Although stories of these types were framed in the present, these authors were future-minded. Many other writers looked not to the future, but searched for their better lands in the misty records of antiquity. Such romancers reveled in the beauty, simplicity and lusty barbaric adventure of bygone ages.
Ed Fields January 29, 2012 at 02:38 AM
continued, by S. Teitler This catalog is a selection of what we term today, “Lost Race” stories. These tales deal with the discovery of hitherto unknown lands that support throwback or, in some way divergent cultures. Such stories are about as old as the printed word and could thus claim to be the earliest of themes or motifs in fantastic literature. Certainly the antecedents of the modern lost race story are to be found in such utopias and imaginary voyages as: Bacon’s New Atlantis; Campanella’s The City of the Sun; Gulliver’s Travels; Berington’s Adventures of Gaudentio Di Lucca; Paltock’s Peter Wilkins and others. However, the Lost Race tale as we know it today is much more directly the genus of such late 19th century creations as Bulwer-Lytton’s underground utopia, The Coming Race (1871) which foreshadowed a type of atomic-energy, assumed a continuous evolution of the human race to a higher form and pungently played with the sexual roles. Samuel Butler’s Erewhon (1872) was also an extremely influential novel and was the prototype for the satiric and cautionary lost race tale. Erewhon, located in New Zealand, was a reaction against materialism and more directly the industrial age. The exuberant adventure novels of H. Rider Haggard were in a sense also reactions against machines and the industrial age but, did so inadvertently… We hope that this descriptive catalog demonstrates the growth and development of this unique yet universal theme in fiction.
Joseph F. Fenton January 29, 2012 at 04:14 AM
A poem I wrote for Stuart quite a while ago which he greatly enjoyed: THE OLD MAN (Written for Stuart Teitler circa 2003) The old man stands Remarkably undead On a dance floor With a band behind him Under a bulb of red Shuffle and wine Shuffle and whine He shuffles through unwanted time With a band behind him Under a bulb of red Had enough of blues Every waking moment Rather be in bed Had enough of body, Of life, of time Better off dead, he says But here again tonight With a band behind him Under a bulb of red A species of his own, And he knew what he said For he’d been, he’d done, he’d laid And he was very well read She a bible to him A shanghaied prisoner of his head The last of a race in a foreign land Believes he’d be better off dead Set a clock by him Tune the music by his soul Metronomes can’t match his toes Better off dead, he says But here tonight instead One last glass of wine One more unwanted night in time Standing on a dance floor With a band behind him Under a bulb of red
Guy John Cavalli January 29, 2012 at 06:16 AM
My friend Stuart said YES to: His Book Collection Tito Puente Fred Astair The Female Form The 50's NO to: ANY Tool Mathematics Carlos Santana Cleaning and Cooking ANY time since the 1960's The order of all the above depended on his mood!! I will truly miss his style and splendid HUMOR!!!!! Guy John Cavalli
Bob Eldridge February 06, 2012 at 05:45 PM
In the midst of the desolating news of Stuart’s self-destruction, it is heartening to see these testimonials to his achievements. Stuart was the most formative influence on a generation of collectors and dealers in this field of fantastic literature. He turned them into scholars. For most people, literature is indeed a “field” -- neatly laid out in rows with the harvest stacked up in piles. But for Stuart it was a jungle, a desert, an Arctic wasteland, and he plunged into these terrains and brought back treasures. I started spending time in this field in the mid-1980s and slowly absorbed -- directly and indirectly through other disciples of Stu -- the difficult wisdom that the greatest thrill of scouting is not finding the books you’re looking for, it’s finding the books you aren’t looking for. “Don’t look for books, look at them.” A simple enough maxim, but how hard it was for me to build the patience and curiosity and courage to actually do it, to consider a book that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted by experts. I can say, sadly, with some experience of my own in dealing in this area of books since then that this attitude has gotten rarer. That spirit of adventure is thinning out. Collectors have become more cautious. For an explanation, one need look no further than Stuart’s gradually retirement, starting in the 1990s, from his work. The one person who was stubbornly blind to the importance of his achievements was Stuart himself. -- Bob Eldridge
Amanda Azevedo February 06, 2012 at 11:58 PM
This makes me sad. I didn't know him (I don't think we ever even spoke, actually) but I saw him out every morning as I walked my kids to school. I loved his hat and his grumpy face (though maybe part of the reason I never introduced myself?) and had no doubt he was a Character. RIP.
Margaret Tong February 07, 2012 at 02:00 AM
I know what you mean, Amanda. I too wish I'd spoken to him. I used to guess he was Irish, with his Samuel Beckett face and his cap. He certainly looked like an interesting author. But then would he have welcomed being approached by strangers. But, at least, I wish I'd said "Good Morning."
Amanda Azevedo February 07, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Exactly.... Peace, Stuart.
Rachel Holmen March 02, 2012 at 07:04 AM
What a sweet remembrance!
Charlie Cockey December 20, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Though I've always maintained my home in the Bay Area, I pretty much moved to the Czech Republic back in 2000, so lost track of a lot of friends, among them Stu Teitler. Iknew him for pretty much the whole time he lived out west, and had some wonderful times with him. Stuart was one of a kind, a grimy, grouchy, grousing guy, but we got along pretty famously. I would visit him, pore over his Lost Race collection, haggle and finagle for things I found, occasionally traded with him. We used to go scouting together - he'd call and invite me along, which was not only always fascinating but a total gas as well (smoky, though; he was a chimney, that's for sure). I remember once in a bookstore somewhere in Sacramento on a scouting trip with him, we both saw a desirable book way up on a high bookshelf. We charged, literally ran, across the shop and started leaping to get the thing, like a couple of guys from the hood playing hoopball. Took several jumps. I seem to remember that I won, gave me HUGE pride (you don't beat Teitler at much) - but for the life of me can't remember what it was (perhaps an Odd John, which would have been appropriate). I did beat him one other time, when we both were standing about 3 feet apart and spotted a gem on the shelf between us - I was quicker - again, no idea what the book was. The one I *DO* remember missing was Victor Saville's "Beyond the Great South Wall", a lost race book he was very keen on having - and grrrrr he got it. Snatched it right out of in front of me - because HE knew what the spine looked like and recognized it before I, who only knew the name, could read what it was.............. He loved coming over to my house and making me play free-form extemporaneous music on the guitar. Something about my rhythms moved him, and he would stand in the corner between my rocking chair and old lawyer's sectional bookcase and dance for hours while Alice cooked stuff in the kitchen. I'm pissed off that he's dead, which is appropriate, because he was generally pissed off at just about everything. Dammit - just dammit.
lmj December 31, 2013 at 04:16 PM
Although i did not know you dear loved one I would like to say that i am sorry for your loss and I would like to offer my condolences and share a scripture for you to read in your spare time. it's at Revelation 21:4 and it give us hope for those that have passed. If you would like to hear more about my hope please feel free to contact me at lyds1186@gmail.com

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