Thursday, July 05, 2007

Writers in a dream

We're in a quaint bookshop, and David Remnick is behind the cash counter. He's reading something. On either side before the register are two square pillars with shelves attached. They're filled with books I've never seen before. R, the wife, browses through cookbooks with faint interest. But this is something else, with books I've never heard of, and I jump them. The spine on one hardcover looks familiar. It's edited by Remnick, and part of the series which includes "Wonderful Town" and "Fierce Pajamas". He looks up as I pull it out, smiles, and returns to his work. It's an anthology of flight, and it's got Calvin Trillin! Gopnik! Remnick! And for whatever reason, Atul Gawande! There's a slot on my shelf at home right next to the other books from the series. It'll be a squeeze, but this will fit. I turn to R, and she asks, "Another book?" Yes, but it's a New Yorker.

There's another thing. There's a book I want, a book on playing the guitar. It's the best book there ever was on the subject, and like all other best books on their subjects, this one is a lesson in how to write well. I call for help finding the book. A man emerges from behind the pillar. Julian Barnes listens patiently, and says that the store has it. He returns a while later, dusting it off. He says that the store keeps guitars, would I like to have a look? They're beautiful. I want one, but it seems a little selfish so I buy it for R, and give her the book too. In my mind it's like giving your wife a Playstation for her birthday. It will eventually come around.

Maybe I'm reading too much of the New Yorker these days.

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