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Posted By DMB

The “Book of the Month” for this month is Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein (Penguin). A marvelous mediation on old age wherein we learn that Epicurus was not an Epicurean. He believed in simplicity in food and drink. And that what was important was not what you ate but who you ate with. He also believed that old age was not to be avoided – by pretending that seventy was the new fifty, but that it should be embraced as not only an important stage in life but the most important age. For only the old can dismiss all the pointless vanities and stupid ambitions which drove us in our youth. And embrace the important things, which are companionship, conversation over food and drink with friends and simply embracing the beauties of life which are there for all if we only slow down and look. All obvious, even trite – except Klein makes it fascinating, so much so that I read a page and think for half an hour before going on. And finishing it once, and having bought a dozen copies for friends, I’ve started it again.

A word to the wise – from Epicurus, one of the truly wise ones.

Posted By DMB

      The Blog has fallen behind, probably because I’m doing so well with my “rare” disease. I’m told it can even be cured, although probably not wholly. I shall probably retain some of my Byronic limp, but I don’t much care anymore because it’s been singularly unsuccessful anyway. Young women holding doors and cars stopping to let me cross the road is more disconcerting than flattering.

      Even if I’m cured of the “rare” disease I still have COPD underneath, so I’m contemplating changing my persona from Byronesque to Laurentian. I shall cough tragically and sigh romantically, implying that consumption is threatening and there’s not much time. If it worked for Keats and Lawrence it might work for me.

     I’m back at work six or seven hours a day and starting to plan both our downsizing and the party we will be having to celebrate fifty years as a bookseller which occurs next June. Perceptive people will note that I didn’t phrase it “fifty years in business”. That is because bookselling isn’t really a business – it’s a pretend business at best. We will have half the space at more rent, the real reason all the used bookstores worldwide have disappeared: high rents in what used to be slums. Only the French – as usual – comprehend the importance of culture in a county and are subsidizing an area of Paris so bookstores will continue to provide access to the records of our civilization. So, we must find a way to reduce our stock by half (not to mention a huge reference library accumulated over fifty years). It’s very painful for me because for all of my so-called career I thought that if I bought good books I could live off them in my old age. Now here I am with wonderful books and no place to keep them. They were to be my pension and now, instead of relaxing I have to deal with major problems. But, in case anyone thinks I feel sorry for myself that would be an error. I’m still having a wonderful time and my major fear is not the problems I have to solve, but that my precious books might go to unworthy people.

     I have, with only Don Stewart of McLeod’s in Vancouver as a rival, the best general antiquarian stock in Canada and no one cares. Governments bail out wealthy corporations to protect jobs and the economy but it would never occur to them that our souls need culture or there’s no point to being wealthy.

     I’ve offered entire sections to some institutions here and offered my entire stock to the Government of China. Since China must be preparing for their takeover of the world by training Chinese students with higher education and the stock of any good antiquarian shop would be a perfect base for any special collections department of a university library, I thought they could be interested in acquiring an entire library.

     Since the Trudeau government seems to have spent a fortune attempting to initiate business opportunities in China for Canadian business, perhaps I’ll call Justin.




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