A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the new translation of “Time was soft there” by Jeremy Mercer in my native language, Dutch. (See here.) The Dutch publisher gave it the title: A bed between the books (Een bed tussen de boeken). I just read it and I can recommend it to anyone who loves bookshops in general and Shakespeare and Company in Paris in particular.
Since I’ve recently been to the shop, I could picture the adventures of Mercer in this shop vividly. (Click here to read the post about my visit to the shop.) This Canadian journalist has written a very good account of his life in the bookstore. (But not dry and matter of fact at all.) And an interesting biography of the owner, George Whitman. The style of the writing was very entertaining and quite funny at times.
I actually started reading the book this morning and finished it before dinner. I just could not lay it aside. Well, I did put it away for a moment. But just to get myself a cold glass of wine to accompany me during the last chapters. In spirit of the book. I started to envy Mercer quite early on in the book, even though he lived in poverty and not very hygienic to say the least. He did live the bookish life style to the fullest. In the best shop in the world.
As the chapters moved on – or should I say ‘raced’ on – my envy changed into sheer jealousy. The life lessons he learned at the shop changed his life. He made true friends. “Sucked the marrow out of live”, to quote Thoreau. For Mercer, Shakespeare and Co were his woods. The book is a beautiful tale that proves that books sometimes truly are more important than food.
More information on the Dutch translation, “Een bed tussen de boeken” can be found here. I hate reading translations, because they are usually not very good. This one is, I have to say. Click here for the original, Time was soft there.