A father is shopping here with his son and tells him that the picture on this book is actually Obi Wan Kenobi. The book is up high, balanced on the edge of the shelf. The child leans back, arching his back. He lengthens his face, expresses acute and outraged disbelief.
He says: there is no way that that is Obi Wan Kenobi because it’s not even him. His dad tells him that it actually really is. The boy laughs.
It isn’t. I can tell.
His dad looked down at him and said: may the force be with you.
A young boy came in to the shop with his father and was anxious for a copy of Moby Dick, which was his favourite book. I only had a volume that contained Moby Dick and Omoo and Typee and Israel Potter. I was doubtful of this 1700 page volume but the child reassured me that this was ok, he had already read all of these and they were as good as anything. He said that Moby Dick was a good book, as good as Star Wars or anything like that.
His father stood patiently by.
The child then said that Moby Dick is just more exciting than the other versions, it is just more exciting….than…the other versions. And it is as good as Uluru. He did not explain this last statement but instead went to another shelf to get a Star Wars Encyclopaedia which he was getting for his teacher.
I’m getting this for my teacher. He’s a really really really really big fan of Star Wars. He’ll really get into this.
He stood there, confident, pushing his glasses back to the correct position, squared up and facing the world, his enormous world full of enormous books, glowing and supreme, while his father stood patiently by.
Photography by Aaron Burden
The small boy was walking along the footpath the other morning with his dad and he was carrying a box of glazed doughnuts. As they walked past the shop windows, his dad said: we’d better get home, get the doughnuts home, hey, and then I’ll be getting married. The child was staring down at the glazed chocolate in amazement. The man was staring up at the grey sky in amazement.
They continued on past the shop, looking neither left nor right, just walking along together in amazement.
Yvonne continues to look in the door of the shop most mornings and ask me how the babies are. I tell her they are growing and happy. She always says: Well that’s the thing isn’t it!
When Morgan looks at his infant son, his son looks at him and they exchange evidence that each now lives for the other. Noah’s face is too small to hold in all the joy. And that’s the thing.
Outside the shop there is a father securing a sheepdog in the back of the ute. The son, about 8, stands patiently by. He asks his dad if he can get an icecream and a hero disk. His dad says: yep, soon as I tie in Baily. The son balances on the edge of the gutter and puts one finger on Baily’s nose to help and his dad says: well done. The child smiles. And that’s the thing.
Once a boy told me that he was 10 years old and going to read Brisingr. He asked his dad if he could get him Brisingr and his dad said yes. Then the child made a good joke: he said – can you get me a dragon? And his dad said: maybe… and the child laughed darkly to himself. And that’s the thing.
Joe visited two days ago to pick up his Charmian Clift book and said that he has had a win. That he kept every book he ever had on making furniture, but nobody wanted them. So he asked his son if HIS son, an apprentice cabinet maker might like them, and his son said: he won’t want them, just chuck them dad.
But Joe called his grandson himself and the boy said: I’ll be down on Saturday, Grandpa, keep them for me. Joe said: I’ve had a win.! And that’s the thing!
Dale’s dad told him that he should read history as it occurs. Dale said that he just wanted to read Skulduggery, all ten of them in the right order. His dad argued for the reading of history (as it occurs), but they left with five Skulduggery books and no history and Dale was happy. He carried all the books himself. And that’s the thing.
Small things are always the thing.