Sunday, August 9, 2009

Books, Shakespeare And Lunch

Looking for old or used books the old fashioned way can wear out a lot of shoe leather, but is way more interesting than computer searches. Hoping to discover a series of Ansel Adams photography books while in Paris, brought me to several bookshops I regularly go to. It was a long shot, but all about the journey. First I needed a little lunch for the way. Walking through Paris' Latin Quarter, there are many choices. A crêpe made to order and filled with warm, melted Gruyere cheese is a favorite. It is street food at it's finest. Now, I could get down to business in this lively quartier. The area of students and universities, gets its name from the Latin language speaking students from the Middle Ages. There is still a learning atmosphere with bookstores that cater to the international student. I first stopped at the bookshop, Gilbert Jeune, with no luck at finding my books. Walking along the Seine and past les bookinistes stalls, I looked quickly at what was displayed beyond the postcards. There was a lot of photography, but no Ansel Adams books to be seen. much for French fashion here! And why are the photographer and journalists signs posted with the toillette sign??? Onward I went to reach Shakespeare and Company, the English speaking bookshop with roots back to the original owner, Sylvia Beach. The store was often visited by Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, George Antheil, Man Ray, James Joyce, and the Beat Poets of the 50's. I have been coming here for years and have often gone to the Sunday poetry readings and tea in the upstairs room. The bookshop welcomes young writers and students, and offers a place to study and even sleep if needed. (I think I am too much of a germ freak to do that!) You're just expected to give back by working a little in the store. I don't think anyone has ever been on the organizing shift, though! There is a place to stop, sit and read in every dusty nook, cranny and eave of this bohemian store. I was tempted to drag that comfy green chair over to the open window and sit a spell. Even though there were no Ansel Adams books (I think!) among stacks and stacks of books here, the ongoing dedication to the learned soul permeates from every creak in the ancient floor. Ah...if walls (and books) could talk!

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