The Book Keeper

I have a customer who is too full of joy.

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I have a customer who is too full of joy and she causes me joy too; no matter how hard I try to be calm and sensible, I cannot. She stacks her choices everywhere and reads lines aloud and loudly. She has a heavy book of poetry, and she is leaning over the pages, chanting the lines and I said: who is that? And she said: oh my God, it’s Yeats.

But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

 One cannot read everything in a lifetime but we are going to. We are absurd. We will use every spare minute to read. She says that reading divides her in two. There is her and there is her.

She says: do you know…do you have…do you have….do you have…..I am going to find a book of nursery rhymes, you know the ones, the Opies, you know the ones, you know those ones, you must get them….OH MY GOD…what is this book and what is this book?  Should I read the Pepys, do you remember in Charing Cross Road how she read the Pepys…do you have…you know the one….you know the one…..oh my heart. I must just read this out loud.

And then she is sitting on the floor reading to herself, something from Arthur Ransome or Kenneth Graham or Rudyard Kipling or Rosemary Sutcliffe or some other intensity.

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