Orwell, George

Bookshop Memories

Some days, especially those in which my lack of tolerance for this city is only matched by my impatience with the job, I suffer the wildest joyriding fantasies of working at a used bookshop. To elucidate, the fantasy usually involves moving to smalltown Americana and opening up one next to a Wal-Mart, grabbing curiosity-seekers on their way out, and making recommendations based on their blue-light purchases. If they were frumpy housewives whose impulse buy was the latest People magazine to go with their two cartons of Virginia Slim 100s and sale-rack throw pillows, I’d toss a Flan O’Connor their way. Spotty boys with fresh camouflage trousers and a hunting licence bought off dad’s credit card? Siddartha ought to nip that in the bud. It goes on and on, saving every caricature and stereotype, one well-bound volume at a time, and this has been a very real fantasy for years.

And when that fantasy becomes a real desire, days like today, where the tolerance is spent and the work is so dull it’s not even good for a giggle in appreciation of its absurdity, I skim over this, which makes it okay to come home and have a cup of tea.