City Desk

Shit happens, but at Dupont Circle’s Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, it apparently never goes out of style. For nearly five years, a series of children’s picture books about bodily functions with titles like Everyone Poops and The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts have occupied a place of honor in the store’s window. Written in Japan in the late ’70s and translated into English in 1993, the books consist largely of illustrations, running the gamut from delightfully crude (an enormous elephant posterior on The Gas We Pass) to the questionable (a man and a boy naked in a bathtub, expelling streams of bubbles, in the same book). “Four or five years ago, a customer asked us to special-order one, and we just fell in love with them,” says general manager Mitch Brown. He estimates that only half the people who buy the books actually have children. “You can hear people on the sidewalk scream, ‘I’ve got to get this!’” he says. —Eli Muller