Monday, February 23, 2009

I used to dwell in bookstore basements.

A few days ago I wrote a little bit about what my routine used to be like when I lived fifteen minutes from Harvard Square. Bookstores were also a large part of my routine back then, most especially the Harvard Bookstore, and most especially the basement.
There was a time when I visited that store twice a day. 
Books just make me feel better. I love them. I feel like they help me understand myself better, and I always seem to find the right book at the right time.
(This may sound overly romantic. Lately I've been called sensitive and hopelessly romantic more times than I can count, but I have never minded being called these things. I know I'm sensitive, and I like it, and as I get older I learn to accept it more than fight it.)
A week or two ago I was at Common Wealth Books and picked up a book by an author named Marguerite Duras, pictured above. I had never heard of her before, but when I opened it up I was excited to find that her chosen form and style of writing were very similar to mine (something I don't come across very often), and therefore proof that a writer with my style can definitely be published. I didn't buy the book. I kept her name in my head.
Today at the Harvard Bookstore, I came across "The Lover" by Marguerite Duras. This is not short stories, like the last book of hers I stumbled across, but a short novel. I was more moved by the introduction by Maxine Hong Kingston than by the first few pages of the novel itself, but if someone wrote such a loving forward for a book I have faith that it will be amazing.
This book also caught my attention...and this might seem crazy, but I thought it was all real until I read the quotes on the back, and then I wondered if this entire auction catalogue is fictional, if the couple in all the photographs was played by two actors or models, the items dreamt up by someone who dared to dream what mundane objects might become things of great importance when shared by two lovers.
After looking through the book, I felt like I knew the alleged couple, and when I discovered that they'd broken up it made it hard for me not to cry in the middle of the bookstore.
The catalogue includes books inscribed, shirts given, postcards sent, and photographs of the two posing as every literary couple, as set up by Lenore herself, who was a photographer.
"One of the pleasures of loving the man is to write him down. She may be loving him to have something to write. She has a story to tell because of having loved him."
-Maxine Hong Kingston on Duras's heroine in The Lover.
I think I'm very sensitive to love. I wouldn't have it any other way. I'd rather be sensitive than not feel at all.

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