Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs were Soft There

Hilary Mantel writes sentences I reread. Not because they're complex and convoluted or bewildering, but because they're simple yet filled with so many ideas and thoughts. It makes me furrow my brow and wonder how anyone could write like that.

And I cannot help but compare her to the last book I read - Jeremy Mercer's Time Was Soft There, which the lovely acquisition librarian at Jubilee ordered for me.

It sounded like a magical journey.. a sojourn at a legendary bookstore in Paris - Shakespeare & Co - by a Canadian crime journalist on the run after a death threat. How dreamy the title sounded - until I learnt what Mercer really meant by it, which made it harsher, more rough-around-the-edges, much like his book and his writing. His book feels like it needs another year to sit by the river Seine and absorb more of Paris. It is filled with fun punchy characters but some of them tend to glaze over and could do with a bit more fleshing out. It is such a marvellous tale - of the legendary George Whitman, a larger than life man who opened the store in 1951 and still runs it despite being in his 90s - helped by his daughter Sylvia. So I cannot help but feel a bit disappointed that I wasn't more thrilled with this book.

And then I find out that the UK version is titled Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs. While this is a horrible unfortunate use of alliteration, I cannot help but think this title suits the book better. And yet, if I'd heard about a book called 'Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs' would I have picked it up? I doubt it. I don't get the change in name, although I'm sure this would make an interesting segue into the reading habits of Britain vs North America. But I have 2500 more words of one and 1500 more words of another to finish. So please carry on without me.

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