Tuesday, 8 June 2004

Bloomsday 100

“Are you a bookseller?” She asked.
I was on a ladder, trying to spot a Murakami book. One of those old bookstores where climbing up is sometimes the only way to reach bliss.
I felt trapped. Like a little kid who’s been caught red handed doing some trick. Mine is to be the shepherd to the books. Organising, classifying... I can't help it! If I see one book that is lost on a shelf somewhere it shouldn’t be, I bring it back to its intended place. Alphabetical order. My little mania. Not only with books, mind you, records too. Just have to do it. But I have to do it unnoticed. Like a little elf that would come during the night perform his magic trick. Kann nicht! Muss!!! Muss!!!
She has seen through me.
“Because I do that too whenever I see books” she went on, smiling.
So, no Murakami, it was useless to stay up there on the ladder. Simon was reading on a chair, absorbed in some Iris Murdoch novel. Pretending not to hear.
Beethoven’s Violin Concerto was playing rather loud on the speakers.
“I wanted some nice nineteenth century music to soothe you…”
True, I had been whistling along.
Really, this woman could see every single detail. She handed me a little card.
“Since you’re such a bookish person, here’s an invitation. Bloomsday 100 in Vienna”. 
I  felt honoured.
“There will be readings the whole day long, from eight in the morning to three the next morning.”
“If you want to join, and maybe read yourself…”
Two boys entered the shop. Proper, polite and charming. Hoping to get a book they had ordered. She didn’t have it. But she gave them the same invitation for the reading.
“If you want to join. And read… or sing.”
The boys looked at each other and took the flyer.
“You know, they are from the Vienna Choir Boy”.
“Vienna Boy choir”, they timidly corrected.
She insisted that I put my name on the list of readers. Even if I didn’t come. I joked, saying I could read a haiku. Minimum reading.
I left my e-mail address. I might do something. Say a Vietnamese poem. Or recite Goethe’s Erlkönig, the only poem I know by heart…

“She had a big pint of beer on her desk” Simon later told me.

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