Posted By DMB

Starting a blog for one reason – in my case to inform friends and clients of my status as an aging bookseller begins to pay his dues – has made me realize that there is no reason why I can’t throw in all my latest enthusiasms and current opinions into the mix. Having a captive audience will be just like having me back in the store.

Yesterday we found out that Stephen Fowler of the Monkey’s Paw must move for the usual reasons – those same ones that have moved or closed some twenty to thirty new and used bookstores in the last years. I sent Stephen a note saying that after being kicked out of five stores over my time, it broke my heart every time, but that once moved I found it had been time. I was ready for expansion, more space, more room for the ideas and stock to expand.

I shall have a lot more to say about the real implication of this but for the moment I’ll stop and talk of Stephen. People said of his store, “Quirky”, “Hodgepodge of weird and interesting”, “You never know what you’d see”, “Fascinating and often arresting window displays.” And much more. All this is true, what you got at Monkey’s Paw was what all real bookstores, especially used and rare ones, should be. You got the owner’s personality, his or hers likes and dislikes, opinions and prejudices (even towards the books which, of course, affects the sales and therefore the income of the bookseller). You get a personality at a real bookstore and inevitably it’s more than you expected.  If you liked that, you went back and found always some new adventure, or a book you never knew existed. And if the ambience suited you, you become a regular there, just like at your favourite coffee shop. Stephen Fowler will flourish. You might have to go a bit further but I expect you will get an expansion of what you already liked. And his new neighbourhood will be enhanced in a manner that only a bookstore can provide.

More on the whole phenomena will appear later.

As for me, I see doctors and adjust.

Now I have, I’m told, diabetes too, along with 3 million other Canadians, so more adjusting. I saw my GP a couple of days ago and left till last the new development – that trying my pulmonary exercises on the weekend one of my ankles refuses to flex. Like all elderly paranoiacs I knew what it was instantly. Diabetes affects blood flow to the lower legs and feet and then they chop your leg off, one by one, and put you in a wheelchair. When I told my doctor she looked at it and said, “that has nothing to do with diabetes, I think you have some sort of nerve palsy, related probably due to pinching or affecting a nerve in the leg in the hospital. I’m sending you to a neurologist.” So they aren’t going to chop off my feet.

Because of the inflexibility I have already developed a slight limp, which I have chosen to call a “romantic Byronesque limp.” I’m going to the flea market as soon as my oxygen is regulated to buy a 19th century walking stick (maybe one with a sword hidden in the shaft to fight off the rabble) which I will use as I limp along the street, hinting of a mysterious and romantic past.

A sign on the wall in my hospital room pictured Lucy holding a football and Charlie Brown trying to kick it, the caption said, “Never, Never, NEVER – give up.”

“People never grow up; they just get tired.”
Jim Harrison.

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