Rain in Strathalbyn

Yelena Sidorova

On Thursday it rained, laying the summer and the dust to rest.
Somebody passing outside said: what brought this on?
Their friend answered: I don’t what brought it on but we’re not ready for it.

The postman said: we’re in for it. The letter he gave me is wet.
A family shouldered through the door and told me it is raining. They are looking for Mr Men books for the baby.
The baby says: hello hello hello hello hello hello puppy, hello puppy, hello, hi, hi…
The baby threw all the Mr Men books on the floor. This is because he didn’t want them. His father tells him that he would like to know who ordered this rain!

Simon is picking up a book he had ordered and told me that it was him that ordered the rain, haha. He said that now he will go and read at the bakery, waiting for the wife, I have a lovely spot, it’s reading weather again, I hope she takes her time. He salutes the sad baby as he leaves.
Another man browses in silence, along the shelves, along the rows, along the spines, slowly, reading out loud but silently, caressing each title in his mind. He reads his way downwards, later he will tell me that books are endless.
A lady outside said: shit. Shit this bloody rain, it’s supposed to be summer. Her friend told her that summer ended ages ago. The veranda is dripping.

I am asked for Cider with Rosie,  The Land of Painted Caves and A Brief History of Time.

There is a young woman, balancing on one foot, considering Francois Sagan, she is bending her head over that beautiful little paperback, thinking what things…? Francois Sagan herself would not require an answer. An old lady was pleased with Mulga Bill’s Bicycle and The Complete Lewis Carroll. She said that she once knew Morse code and every night she reads until 10.45pm and when she left she said: thank you for all of this.

A couple languish against the shelves whispering about everything they have read so far. The looked very happy and very urgent, urgent to continue adding and adding. They take with them Hilary Mantel and Chinua Achebe’s There was a Country. Outside a man is leaning against his car and smoking and staring hard at the Lee Child books in the front window. He gestures toward one of them and says something about Tom Cruise to his friend. The other person laughs.
An old couple leave with nearly all of the Agatha Christies. They tell me it is cup of tea weather.
The young woman who had been balancing on one foot has chosen a copy of A Certain Smile by Francois Sagan and she leaves, balancing on this radiant accumulation to her life.
Then it is quiet again, and just the rain.

Artwork by Yelena Sidorova

 

 

 

 

 

“I would like to have your sureness…”

vittorio-matteo-corcos-sogni

Margaret told yesterday me that in her reading group anyone can choose the books. And these are the books she wants: Bel Canto, Gould’s Book of Fish, Tulip Fever, Birds Without Wings, The Commandant (Text Classic version by Jessica Anderson) and Still Alice (the one about Alzheimer’s) and also Mrs Jordan’s Profession by Claire Tomelin. And that should do for now!! She said that often the members of the reading group are not even reading the same book, hahaha.

I do not often see anyone as happy as Margaret is when she lists off the books she needs. And her husband looks on with approval and carries all the books out for her. Sometimes he finds one for himself, usually something about the Second World War.

Margaret sends books to her children who live overseas and observes that they never seem to get the point of the stories she sends them. But she is delighted. Her husband is delighted too.

“I would like to have your sureness. I am waiting for love, the core of a woman’s life.”

Jenny came over the road to lend to me her copy of A Parrot in a Pepper Tree, the funniest thing she has read in ages. She said that Writers’ Week was Divine and she bought ‘that thing on Keating, the one by Kerry O’Brien and I’m telling you it is an absolute tome ! It’s a winter read, can’t wait till the winter, just the thing and I’ll lend you when I’m done! But before that I’m doing the Gillard. ‘

John told me that he is wanting to collect volumes of myths and legends, tales of all countries because he cannot complete his work without them. He said he knows what he must read, his work tells him, his heart tells him, it is his passion. He also told me that his tobacco has been poisoned and it is the tobacco companies that are doing it.

He asked for a copy of Marion Woodman’s The Owl Was a Baker’s Daughter. This is a Jungian study of the repressed feminine and also vital for his studies.

“I would like to have your sureness. I am waiting for love, the core of a woman’s life.” Don’t wait for it,” I said. “Create a world, your world.”

A new customer told me that the books that had the biggest impact on his life were Jean Auel’s The Earth’s Children series. He felt that the author had devoted her entire life to the researching and writing of the series and that this was an incredible life achievement.  He said that he had a friend in France that once held up some road works there because he thought he recognised some ancient symbols etched into a cliff face that they were excavating. This friend became hysterical and demanded that all work immediately stop and it did! He insisted that these might be runes of some kind, but, well, anyway they weren’t runes, they were marks made by the bucket on the road excavator. But, the thing is that I totally get this, I imagine all the time that I’m seeing evidence of the Cro-Magnon humans, all thanks to Jean Auel. I always wonder what sort of person she is and how good it would feel to have written all these books…’

 “I would like to have your sureness. I am waiting for love, the core of a woman’s life.” Don’t wait for it,” I said. “Create a world, your world. Alone. Stand alone.”

To find some fragment of something that makes you so happy that you cannot stop talking about it, is a great thing. Any small fragment of something that is dear to you (for whatever reason) gives buoyancy. But the visitors here at my book shop, who tell me their stories of what they love, do not seem to realise how their happiness quietly radiates.

“I would like to have your sureness. I am waiting for love, the core of a woman’s life.” Don’t wait for it,” I said. “Create a world, your world. Alone. Stand alone. And then love will come to you, then it comes to you.”

The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934