Nice little bookshop

That’s me. I heard it spoken as people walked past the bookshop this morning. They walk so quickly I don’t get to see them. I just see what they think.

He said, ‘Nice little bookshop. Amazing that it’s still going.’

And somebody answered, ‘True!’

I think, well, maybe not so amazing.

Back to Mark Twain. Somebody wants his autobiography – the University of California Press edition in three volumes. As if I could find that and then let it go to someone else!

A group of four sweep past the window. They are all talking hard.

A lady says, ‘Is that sexist?’

He answers, ‘I think so.’

Seven teenagers in a row, loud and clattery. Bent underneath school bags. They are all talking too loud for me to hear it, but I do hear:

‘Uluru. It’s Uluru.’

Then they are gone.

Back to Georgette Heyer and Harry Potter. Back to The Hitchhiker’s Guide. Back to Marcel Proust, Alice Munro, and Irene Nemirovsk.

The door opens and a man leans in and looks at me, retreats abruptly, closes the door. Ok.

Back to Patricia Cornwell. Back to The Odyssey.

A lady I know comes in. ‘How are you, my dear?’ I’m not coming in. I just want to know how you are.’

A man tells me all about The Barossa Valley.

Another man wants to know all about Clayton.

Back to A Gentleman in Moscow, which I have stolen from my own shelves.

Painting by Carol Marine

Undefeated, always

Inge Look (3)

I like the way they enter the shop, strongly, not opening the door but crashing it out of their way. They are scarves and swirls. They are orange and nutmeg. They are loud, beautiful, and their jewellery is long.

When they came in, one said, ‘My God, a BOOKstore’, and they entered magnificently.

‘What’s that?’

“It’s Dune. It’s making a comeback.’

‘Oh really.’

‘For God’s Sake.’

‘I love Dune.’

‘So did I, but isn’t it dated…’

‘No.’

‘You can’t beat Georgette Heyer, is what I always say.’

Her friends look at her kindly.

‘There’s a new book by…who was it…?’

‘Look at this.’

They argue about Family Circle. They are loud. They are not in agreement about the basics. One of them has a grown child who is causing anxiety. One grips the arm of another. They lean close to read the titles on the Young Reader table; one says, ‘Don’t they read some good things these days, look at this with the dragons on it.’

But they have to go. They move as an army, knowing precisely when and how to move, and why.  How to defeat the enemy. They are ladies of a magnificent age. I do not want them to go. I want to know things. But they have to go; there is work to do.

When they leave, one says, ‘Do you want to try for a loaf of bread next door?’

They go. They leave, taking Georgette Heyer and Family Circle Jams and Preserves. Undefeated, always.

 

Illustration by Inga Look

Young Man Reading

Man reading

The young man came in here during the afternoon, the last of April, the last of the summer warmth and sat in the wicker chair to wait for his mother who needed some more of Georgette Heyer. He glanced around the place, he was not too interested in the place, he was serene enough, happy to wait for her. Later I noticed him reading, it was a worn paperback copy of The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud. I wonder why he chose it. He read for more than half an hour and then his mother finished with Georgette and came to the counter with nothing at all and he stood up and carried the book over and tapped the cover and paid me for it.
He said, “good one,”  and then they left, out of the door and gone.

Young Man Reading by Ignis Bednarik