Wednesday, 4 August 2004

In which we continue to drop names

For once, this blog's claims about moving in august circles can be substantiated. Just after we read Nina's article, which we blogged a couple of posts ago, and mentioned Manjula's play, we also found a link to a lovely piece by another of our buddies, Nilanjana Roy, reminiscing about bookshops she has known, starting with her First Independent Purchase (we are much older and cannot remember that far back in our own life).
How most people mark the passage from childhood into adulthood, I do not know; I marked it by my first solo visit to a bookshop, unaccompanied by adults who would tell me what to buy, clutching a few notes that represented my first ever earnings.
It began badly, with the lady at the counter suggesting the What Katy Did books. My diffidence disappeared in the face of what I saw as a slight. “Oh, I’ve read all of those ages ago—when I was small,” I said loftily. She didn’t allow even the flicker of a smile to cross her face.
Instead she led me deftly into a discussion of reading, cross-examined me subtly, and produced Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird with expert judgement. I still have my copy; ragged, dog-eared, sadly tatty, but then it’s the first book I devoured as a paying adult.
Nilanjana goes on to mourn the imminent demise of one of her favourite bookstores.

What is it with our cities? We permit the sale of underwear strung on funny shaped coathangers on railway pedestrian overbridges, we allow rip-off electronic goods to be sold on the footpaths of our busiest business districts, but we're closing down booksellers? We can feel a rant coming on, but we're tired. Here, you go read the rest of the piece.

What? It is August? Never mind.

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