Monday, July 26, 2010

A conversation in a bookshop....

The following exchange took place in June of 2010 in Beazley Books. It is, as far as I can remember, word-for-word true (God have mercy on my shrivelled soul)

Normal Looking Customer: Do you have any books on Egypt?
Me: Modern or ancient?
NLC: Ancient.
Me : Yes, I have several... here they are.
NLC: Oh, but I’m looking for old books.
Me : I have that. ... here they are.
NLC: Well, I’m really looking for old French books.
Me : I have it is. A three volume history of Egypt published in Paris in 1940. Not so old that the French is any different than today’s (ha ha)
NLC: Well, I don’t read French but I intend to learn one day. I’m in these books you know.
Me : I didn’t know, actually.
NLC: Well I am. In a previous life, I was an Egyptian Queen so I’m certainly in those books.
Me : Which one?
NLC: I don’t know. Volume one I expect.
Me : No, I mean which Queen were you.
NLC: Oh, well, one of them. I must have been an important one because otherwise I wouldn’t remember it, would I.
Me : Hmm, I see your point. Well, these books are $120. A real steal. They’re worth $300.
NLC: Oh, I don’t have any money. I was just curious about what books you had. Maybe I’ll have some money if I can find a job. You wouldn’t by any chance be hiring would you?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pierre's Perspective: I know I can be insufferable...

Beazley Books has a great selection of reasonably priced used books. But what the hell does “reasonably” mean? I for one am rarely accused of being reasonable and think it’s much better to live dangerously or at least to pretend to do so.

People often come into the store and say things like “you’re so lucky to have a bookstore” and I pretend that’s it’s not really a great thing because if I told them the truth that, that yes, it’s so great that I worry Mother Nature might try to balance things out, if I told them this, then those poor wretches would start feeling crappy and ask for the Self-Help section which I don’t have and refuse to carry because except for old Dale Carnegie I think it’s mostly crap. And what the hell is all this about Self-Help anyway? If you’ve screwed up your life that badly do you really think a book by some poufy haired pathological extrovert is going to help you? Do like I do and pour yourself a double. Problem solved.

Other people come into the store to put brochures and a box on my counter to collect money and then they expect to come back and take the box and money away. Sometimes these people are hard to understand, like the guy this morning that said his brochures were to promote the rectal stealth monk. Now I’m an open minded guy but I thought surely the church had put a stop to that stuff so I said, Gee, even the monks are getting into the act now? That’s when I saw his brochure and read Dental Health Month. Well, get the hell out of my store, I said, I don’t want my customers to associate shopping here with teeth decay and gum fungus.

Then there was the fellow who began chuckling while browsing and when I innocently said ‘found a good book did you?’ he answered ‘no’ in that tone of voice one reserves for the particularly dense and continued ‘you placed a copy of Drabble in the mysteries section.’ Ah, those old mis-shelved Drabble jokes....

Now if you’ve ever wondered if store staff listens to your private conversations with friends, well, we do. And the more private, the better. Yesterday, I overheard a fellow telling his buddy that ‘when civilization falls and the lights go out I’m going to visit that SOB in the night with a knife in my teeth and make him scream for a week.’ When I gathered that he was speaking about his accountant my estimation of him improved. My next novel will be titled Vampire Accountants (I know, I know it’s redundant).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Review: Hunting Eichmann by Neal Bascomb

It’s been 50 years now so we can finally know how it really happened. And what a story it is. The Mossad is portrayed in a sober, warts and all fashion that takes nothing away from their ingenuity and heroism. Eichmann is not described in a hyperbolic fashion; a description of his war-time activities is enough, and oblique reference is made, inevitability, to the banality of evil. Despite knowing the outcome, the book reads like a well written edge- of- your- seat thriller. The significance of the trial taking place in Israel against the backdrop of a growing amnesia in the West regarding Jewish suffering during the war is a fresh perspective on what is often perceived to be a simple act of retribution.

A thoroughly good read. I recommend it highly.
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