Sunday, March 8, 2009

Anyone going to Paris?

If you are going to Paris, Shakespeare & Co is worth a visit - it's really just about opposite Notre Dame. There's a current article in The Guardian about it. The idea of the author of the article - in fact, Jeanette Winterson - being conked on the head with a book by the owner is not unremarkable. I've been to Shakespeare & Co a few times and each time, managed to happily avoid him. Yes, some may wear being hit on the head by him or yelled at by him as a badge of pride - I just wanted to get out in one piece.

But it is a remarkable book store. In fact, I found there a book that became the basis of both my Masters and PhD theses. It wasn't until my third visit, however, that I managed to actually get the Shakespeare & Co stamp in a book bought there. People kept stealing the stamp.

The store itself is a motley collection and I've always loved the uneven flagstone floor. I've never had the urge to stay there, sleeping among the shelves, though. I guess I lack the spirit that makes a true Shakespeare & Co initiate.

I'd just take myself off to Les Deux Magots for hot chocolate (they serve it from a little jug). Writers often met there. In fact, I went in the memory of F. Scott Fitzgerald, though he's rarely mentioned in connection with the cafe now. The honour appears to go to Hemingway. Fitzgerald has become a bit obscure now (despite Benjamin Button), which is a shame. I love his glittering prose and brittle characters. I wanted for a while - at seventeen - to be Fitzgerald, so to speak. Well, not to be a guy living in the roaring 20s... but you know what I mean.

Living in the roaring 20s, yes.

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