Shakespeare and Co

In Paris a marvelous ex-pat bookstore is jammed to rafters of 2 floors of English books. Naturally I beelined to the poetry corner. Downstairs is a rabbit’s warren of new and used books…
Shakespeare and Co
I could see multiple full collections of Paula Meehan. I could flip thru Ciarán Carson in person. Something I browsed gave the phrase “concussive months”. There were all these publishers and authors that I’ve read reviews of titles but never seen page to face or can’t access locally, such as Salt, Bloodaxe, Wave Books (such as Take It and Each H), Ugly Duckling Presse, Salmon, Carcanet.
They have spine bound and chapbooks from England, Ireland and the U.S. as well as online entities like Red Hen Press (whose site crashes my browser so I won’t point). They have as big of rack of indie publishers as I ‘ve seen at a generalist bookstore. [Although miniscule compared to This Ain’t the Rosedale Library in Toronto where I went to earlier this year.] I found a book that I tried to order online or at book mooch to no luck for more than a year, Sheila E Murphy’s Green Integer classic, Letters to Unfinished J. (which rob mclennan riffs of in letters to unfinished g.) I can’t say that Murphy is new to me. I have 3 of her titles already but just listen,

6. It is possible to unlearn all arithmatic except subtraction. Need more time to savor what is posh or not. She specialized in deals inversely proportional to the guilt that blocked them.
[…] 9. We want so much to earn a common dialect but syllables emerge instead. Pump out the spine if no stomach is available.

Why would one not want more of that?
But about the space, the buzz in the place! There’s the respectful hum of book lovers. It was more holy than some of the places we toured that were in architecturally churches but had people in tank tops, shorts, baseball caps staring apathetically until they start loud conversations. But that’s a whole other place and time for another time and place.
The bookstore had people absorbed in books. The space is tight so people navigated sideways to get past, paused, got caught up in shelves. They hold readings in the upstairs space.
at Shakespeare and CoUpstairs there are reading rooms with nooks, chairs and sofas of books not for sale. And a typewriter if you want to use it. Anything on the top floor is for reading only on the sofas and chairs, which were occupied so I didn’t intrude with the camera. Except this one seat was free momentarily…
Shakespeare and Co
There’s an area for chat and a wall and ceilings of gratitude where ex-pat readers leave their spontaneous thanks for finding this refuge and institution of English literature in Paris.
wall of gratitude
notes of thanks
There’s a lit mag section to take or leave issues so now 2 copies of PFYC #13 is there along with a few copies of Sandra Ridey‘s above/ground broadsheets and and a few of my oath in the boathouse.
Shakespeare and Co
The past issues of literary magazines have a space where you can drop off or pick up for free. My goodness. I could have spent days but only spent, apparently hours, but it felt like minutes…

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