What’s in a Name?: Moon Palace Books

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    Angela and Jamie Schwesnedl chose Moon Palace Books as the name of their Minneapolis, Minnesota, bookstore after Moon Palace, a 1989 postmodern novel by Paul Auster.

    “It’s the story of a young man in New York who inherits hundreds of boxes of books from his uncle, and then when times get tough, he reads them all and sells them off one by one,” said Angela Schwesnedl.

    Rife with unlikely coincidences and lunar symbolism, Moon Palace centers on protagonist M.S. Fogg, an orphan and a dreamer, whose life descends on a path of poverty and homelessness that ultimately leads him on a journey of discovery.

    “We tossed around a lot of names for the store, but this one had a backstory that we liked at the time,” said Schwesnedl, adding that their bookstore has been a successful addition to the cultural life of the community since opening in October 2012. “Four years ago, when you’d tell people you were opening an independent bookstore, they would say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry!’ But even in four years it’s changed. People’s minds have changed. It’s really great.”

    Schwesnedl said she and Jamie frequently get asked about the store’s name, so she keeps a copy of Moon Palace on display on the counter. People usually assume it’s her favorite book, she added, but there are also some who have assumed that Moon Palace is a New Age store.

    “Every once in a while, I’ll definitely get someone who knows the book, and that pleases them,” she said. “I often tell people that Moon Palace was the book that turned me into a reader. When I read it, I was just figuring out what kind of reader I was.”

    Schwesnedl said she also liked the way the name sounded in conjunction with two of the bookshop’s neighbors: the Trylon Microcinema movie theater, named after the Trylon and Perisphere structures built for the 1939 World’s Fair, and Peace Coffee Wonderland Park, named after the amusement park previously located in the neighborhood.