Jenny Hart (my friend who makes those cute iron-on embroidery patterns and kits) saw my post of the claustrophobic bookstore in Helsinki and it reminded her of a charming claustrophobic bookstore in Paris. She wrote about it on Dinosaurs and Robots.
Un Regard Moderne is considered affectionately by many to be the greatest bookstore on earth. Tucked away on a tiny street in Paris, the space is so crammed with obscure books on art, photography, comics and true crime that only two people can sorta fit in there for browsing. The owner, Jacques Noël, stands quietly on a stack of books in the corner (sometimes only his forehead and a plume of smoke can be seen), graciously willing and able to locate any book from a mind-boggling array of stacks that seem to close in more and more each time I return. I once asked him if he had any books by Polish artist and author Bruno Shulz. He thought a moment and said no, he didn't. But the next time I stopped in several weeks later, without even inquiring, he silently walked over to me and placed two copies in my hands he'd ordered. Ah, Paris! Buenaventura Press has some good photos on Flickr giving you a feel for it.
To call Shopsin’s “a Greenwich Village institution” was to understate something profound and important and weird and funny: Shopsin’s (first a grocery store, later a restaurant) was a kind of secret reservoir of the odd and wonderful and informal world that New York City once represented, in the pre-Trumpian days of Sesame Street and Times Square sleaze: Tamara Shopsin grew up in Shopsin’s, and Arbitrary Stupid Goal is her new, “no-muss memoir,” is at once charming and sorrowing, a magnificent time-capsule containing the soul of a drowned city.
There are three more stops on my tour for Walkaway: tomorrow at San Diego Comic-Con, next weekend at Defcon 25 in Las Vegas, and August 10th at the Burbank Public Library.
I’m teaching the Clarion Science Fiction writing workshop at UCSD in La Jolla this week, and tomorrow night at 7PM, I’ll be reading from my novel Walkaway at Comickaze Liberty Station, 2750 Historic Decatur Rd #101, San Diego, CA 92106. Hope to see you!
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