Thursday 6 September 2018

Book Store Blues & The President Swears Off Tweeting!

I was staying a dozen or so miles from New Haven when my laptop crashed. After a fruitless couple of hours on the phone with a technician it was mutually decided that I should visit the nearest Apple Store.

I was in a bit of a panic as I had a number of deadlines, so I arrived 40 minutes early for my appointment. No dice!  I was instructed to come back in half-an-hour.

To my delight, Yale Book Store was next door. What a break! As I was entering I realized that I hadn’t darkened such a door in a long time.

Strange, because I used to spend much time in both book and record stores; yet it all seemed so long ago.

Whenever I had nothing to do, which was often enough, I frequented a legion of such stores within walking distance of my East Village apartment.

But even the notion that I had “nothing to do” seemed very distant. I don’t know about you, but nowadays I have to write down a list of the things I MUST do for fear of my universe collapsing, and another list of things I SHOULD do before they too migrate to the cataclysmic column. 

How did my life get so busy and needlessly complicated, I wondered, as I stepped through the portals of Yale’s gleaming bookstore?

All was familiar - tables of cut-price tomes up front and in the distance great shelves of volumes awaiting my touch and appreciation.

I smiled as I picked up a new edition of Justine by Lawrence Durrell – I had bought my old battered copy thirty years ago at The Strand on Broadway; it opened a universe that I’m still exploring.

I moved on to familiar sections: poetry, biography, history, and of course, recent arrivals, for one must keep up with and support current writers.

I saw a book by a new Irish author that had been well reviewed. It was somewhat bulky and I knew in my heart that I’d never read it in hard cover; no I’d buy it later on Amazon and read it on my phone or iPad.

A wave of sadness swept over me, as happens when one realizes that an old romance is irrevocably over. When was the last time I read a hard cover – bulky or otherwise?

With a pang of guilt I had to admit that I long ago gave away my treasured collection of LPs – battered and scratched though they may have been. 

To add insult to injury I had recently been wondering if I had any more need of my CD collection. Shouldn’t I be converting all my favorites? After all, the writing now appears to be on the wall for CD players.  

Where would it all end? And then I realized that I was some minutes late for my Apple appointment. I rushed next door. 

My “genius “impatiently awaited me – smile firmly attached, but no doubt wondering if this analog miscreant was going to blow his appointment.

To make a long story short, the genius fixed my computer and explained in detail what had gone wrong. Once I realized I’d make my deadlines I blanked her out. I knew I’d never remember the helpful advice anyway.

I had other matters on my mind. To hell with deadlines! I strode back into the hallowed halls of Yale Bookstore. I picked up the voluminous Collected Stories by William Trevor then made a dash for the Classics shelves.

I knew it would be there – Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. I had last tried to read Volume One on the riotous Black 47 tour bus back in 1994. Not a prayer - I had thrown in the towel long before we staggered into Cleveland.

Will I ever read Monsieur Proust? Probably not, but I grabbed it anyway - another foolish act of defiance? Perhaps, but even a couple of chapters might work wonders on my frazzled digitized brain!

I even made a vow while speeding out of New Haven - less deadlines and more reflection! About the same chance as the president swearing off tweeting! 

Still, stranger things have happened – or have they?