by Lee Cross
I wrote the first part of this blog sitting in a ferry port, drinking a, quite frankly, a criminal cup of coffee (both in price and taste). The second part was done in a train station (I skipped the coffee this time), waiting on a Eurostar… and now I’m sitting in Paris, outside the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, hot coffee again, with a view of Notre Dame Cathedral just over the river… needless to say, its been a busy few days of travel for me – a person most used to traveling the worlds with the turning of one page to the next.
I’m in Paris, there’s a hundred other things to see and do (at least), but I feel utterly compelled to write something; existing in the shadow of genius, would pretty much sum up the moment I currently find myself in… and I’m not talking about the Cathederal, which even those of us devoid of faith would freely admit is full of beauty and power.
There is just something about The Shakespeare… well, that’s magical. It’s in the walls, it’s in the hushed tones of the visitors (worshippers?), and it’s inside the cover of every book on the shelves, even the bad ones (of course there are bad books… show me a bookshop without a bad book, and I’ll show you a pet shop without pet food).
Right about here in my blog, would be the bit where I write a little bit about the history of the store; about why it’s so famous; why it is a Mecca of sorts for the lovers of the written word… but the truth is, I don’t know the answers to any of those apparent questions.
I came here because a half-dozen readers told me I absolutely should come here – and this is Paris! There’s more should’s here than you can count, or possibly do in four days… the fact that Notre Dame is over the river, is completely incidental (I walked past it, from the Metro, on my way here).
Bookshops are special because we believe them to be, like churches, or beaches, or comic conn, or online dating platforms… the greater part of enjoyment is in our minds, the thinking and not the doing, and who has a better imagination than the committed readers
And so here I sit, dreaming and writing, believing that a moderately run down building, filled with a selection of readily available books, and tourists, somehow holds a power beyond that which can be truly understood… Because it does.
[Note: Paris is great… Louvre is the study of a lifetime… food is nice… and I saw a person walking a very pretty dog. BUT I don’t’ blog about those things]