Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A great book and a bear sighting.

The library has only been open a few days, but there has been activity. Roberto has made himself at home and has more or less moved in. He sleeps on a couch in what he calls "The Cervantes Room" in the south wing of the sixth floor. I told him where the showers are, but I don't think he has taken the hint. Sigh. As the only other "resident" of this place I have visited him a few times and we have such good discussions that I quickly forget about the aroma.

Roberto has distributed his own books in the shelves of the Cervantes Room. Some I have read, but most I have not. Intrigued, I asked to borrow one. Roberto looked amazed.

"Jesus man, you don't have to ask! Isn't that what this place is for? For people to leave and borrow books at will?"

"Yes, of course. Um, so what do recommend?"

"For you, I'd say this one", and he pulled a cream-coloured hardcover off a shelf and handed it to me. Bartleby & Co. by someone name Enrique Vila-Matas. "For an Eternal Orangutan, I can think of no better book."

I thanked him, tucked the book into my bag, and took my leave.

I have been devouring Bartleby & Co. for the last two days. Roberto was right- it is the perfect book for an Eternal Orangutan, because it closely resembles the work of The Master whose name and mine are often spoken of in the same breath. It is not a novel in the normal sense, but a collection of encyclopedic entries on writers (some real some imaginary) who have mastered the art of not writing. It is like an invisible library all on its own.

When my rather flat nose is not pressed into this book, I wander the halls. Occasionally I hear footsteps clacking on the polished marble floors, but the echos off the empty book shelves make it hard to figure out where my visitor may be and they usually come and go without meeting me. There have been two exceptions. I found "Billy" a young man with a thick Northern English accent who was, I must say, rather rude. He kept saying "feck aff, yer oogly ape." Thankfully he seems to have gone. The other was rather more unusual- for as I rounded a hallway corner I could swear I saw a great white bear exiting the hall far down on its other end. Needless to say I was astounded- another great hairy beast in this library? I bounded down the hall as fast as my feet and knuckles could carry me, but when I rounded the corner I was greeted with only empty space and silence.

I only hope that should this ursus maritimus return, it leaves a few books on these shelves.

1 comment:

  1. I sniff the air, relishing the magic of dust on leather and paper. I can only leave the best, for the best. Carefully scooting forward a copy of Reservation Blues, by Sherman Alexie with my paw, and dropping a hardcover volume of Ray Carver's Collected Poems.