MONKEY'S PAW, 1229 Dundas West, 416-531-2123, www.monkeyspaw.com Rating: NNNNN
The smell of musty, yellowed pages and fermented printing ink fills your nostrils as soon as you walk into the Monkey's Paw bookshop. Owner Stephen Fowler moved to Toronto from lit-loving San Francisco, and his library of second-hand reads is stocked with rare, kitschy and curious finds.
Book picks fit a beautiful, arcane, macabre and absurd set of criteria and cover the arts, history, science, literature and cooking. Fowler loves printed ephemera, and plastic-wrapped pamphlets on wedding etiquette, poisons in your home and how to improve your badminton pock the store.
Bookcases aren't labelled, so browsers thumb through titles like A Guide To The Pianist's Repertoire and IBM's 360 And Early 370 Systems before stumbling on the display of pulp fiction with B-movie-style illustrated covers. Sex-, drug- and death-related volumes are easy to find on a lone back-corner shelf.
Monkey's Paw picks: Knox Gelatin's On Camera cookbook, featuring story-boarded recipes for retro delicacies like moulded avocado and tuna, $18; a series of Haldeman-Julius Little Blue Books including how-to titles like Ventriloquism Self-Taught, $4 to $8; type up your own classic on a 50s Smith-Corona portable typewriter, $75.
Look for: An in-house line of letter-pressed cards and salvaged paper journals stamped with vintage engravings, arriving soon.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday noon to 7 pm.