Monday, April 7, 2008
Squeezing in Book Time
Life has been hectic lately, what with travel, birthday, a big Traverse evening, days of grading, and a weekend of house and yard work. So other than BLINK, the assigned reading for my philosophy students for the end of the semester, I haven’t found a lot of time for reading. Biography is good for times like these. It has all the unfolding narrative drama of a novel but somehow does not compel nonstop reading. The book I’ve been picking up at odd moments, then, the last few mornings and evenings is THE MYSTERY OF GEORGES SIMENON: A BIOGRAPHY, by Fenton Bresler.
“Through a friend of his father’s, he got a job as a junior assistant in a bookshop on the rue de la Cathedrale, one of the main shopping streets in the heart of Liège.” Simenon’s days as a bookseller were few in number, that budding career cut short when he corrected his employer in front of a customer. The fact that he did once work in a bookstore, however, if only for a few days, gratifies me. This was in Liège, Belgium, his birthplace and the town where his childhood and youth were spent. Nine pages later, at the age of 18, he and his fiancée are planning their escape to Paris.
It seems that spring has arrived at last, with the first golden crocus open in front of the house, and as winter comes to an end, my need to escape my immediate surroundings diminishes considerably. An hour or two spent in Paris, on the other hand, appeals to me in any season.