A Time and a Place
The time someone else's couch turned me into a fortune teller.
Illustration by Katie Parrish
On a street parallel to the Seine sits an old bookshop known for not only its postcard-perfect, teeming interior but also for its willingness to house poor, wandering bibliophiles. They didn’t let me in right away, though I knew they often tested the resolve of any prospective “Tumbleweed” this way. I briefly entertained the notion that they would see how deep and genuine my longing for this had been since I had first visited three years ago at twenty-one, and thus immediately usher me quickly out of the gray November morning. Instead, when I arrived straight off the train from De Gaulle, duffle in hand, the staff member who greeted me said this wasn’t really the best time.
“George is very sick — it’s not looking good…”
The George she spoke of, I knew, was George Whitman, legendary proprietor of Shakespeare and Company bookstore, friend to Beat poets and devotee of Sylvia Beach, the owner of the original Shakespeare and Company (and also the namesake of Whit…
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