Sometimes people come into the shop and I don’t notice. They just appear, and not through any door that I have. When I look up, there they are. A knot of teenagers, seated on the ground, leaning back, solemn, as though here for a meeting. I can hear the trailing ends of one idea after another.
‘The point he’s making is that….’
‘What people don’t realise….’
‘With my play, I had to…..’
‘Yeah, but that exerts…’
Someone is reading aloud. Everybody listens. The reader stands up. Finishes. Everyone dives forward with an idea….’I’ve got that on Instagram…not the book…it’s on something…’
‘No, no no, pretty much…..not that one…’
‘In The Uncommon Reader…’ Someone narrates the plot of The Uncommon Reader.
‘Listen to this…’
‘I was like…’
‘There’s this really long word in this play…’
More reading out loud. An argument. A selfie is taken.
‘Oh my God. I’m getting that.’
‘Are you serious?’
‘I love this.’
‘The exhibition was in 1910…’
‘This was published in 1948.’
‘I don’t reckon…’
‘So what books are you grabbing hon…?’
‘I know. I don’t know. But I’m getting this now. I just googled it, I love it.
It was Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost they were reading from, and that they are now buying.
Then they leave, one girl hugging the ‘beautiful book’ and telling the others she can’t go out tonight because she has rehearsal.
A Tale from The Decameron, 1916, John William Waterhouse