Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hot nights and George Whitman

It's so hot tonight I can see my veins and I keep thinking there's an insect inside my dress but it's just beads of sweat popping and running down the small of my back.

Hot. It must still be thirty two degrees and it's 9.30pm.
We saw a rat crawl along the fence outside though I swore it was a possum. For a rat it was very cute - clean, and well fed.

It's 2012 now. I was thinking about some things that have happened in 2011, things I've liked, I might post a few.

Something I didn't like is that George Whitman died. Paris will be so much emptier. Even when you didn't see George in the bookshop you knew he was always there, upstairs, around - present. I've never known of anyone who has lived their life so consistently in the one place - working, doing, continuing, ageing. Without compromising his vision of things which was so positive - so naive - so believing in people - ideas that could so easily be manipulated by the nasty old greedy world - hey strangers, come and stay in my bookshop if you like, just promise to read a book a day. And yet he keeps doing it. And people come. And I'm sure there are lots of stories, lots of disappointments, lots of challenges. But they keep doing it. The bookshop burns down. They rebuild it. The joint continues to be a ridiculous fire hazard. They keep holding readings there in corners and outside and upstairs in the sloping room with books heaving from the walls. Music concerts. Discussions. And George, always there somewhere, maybe asleep, maybe reading. Like a ghost - an alive ghost - what an alive ghost - with nearly a hundred years of Paris stories - this view. And now George a real ghost. I didn't know him that well. But I will miss him so much - that feeling - will I see George today? There is something I can't get over about the line of his life - I don't know all that much about it - I'm sure there must have been so many highs and lows - but from the outside just the fact he continued that bookshop, and living in that bookshop for so many decades right up to the age of 98 just makes me think - wow - some lovely things can stay the same. Some people just want to continue doing the thing they love, even when the world wants to consume it and fatten it up and serve it to Hollywood on a big oozy platter. 


  1. There's a documentary (in 4 parts) on YouTube about GW. It's brilliant. Here's the first part :