For you local readers who share their favourite bookstore with me and many other local readers, how about PRE-ORDERING your copy of BOOK OF DREAMS from Blue Heron Books!
The iconic UXBRIDGE, ONTARIO bookstore is one of Canada’s most beloved! And we all know why…
Blue Heron owner, Shelley MacBeth, is a champion for all things books, and the authors who write them. Her work with, and for, writers has garnered her national acclaim, making Blue Heron one of Canada’s best known bookstores.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have two book signings at this amazing bookstore. My debut, Summer on Fire, and my most recent release, The Camino Club.
As I will be out of country when my next book hits the shelves, I thought I would send all my local readers to Blue Heron Books for their copy. Please consider shopping local and placing your PRE-ORDER with Blue Heron Books. And let’s face it, you really should mark that order PICK UP so you can give Shelley and her magical store a visit!
The book drops on TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 13th, which is also my birthday! If you pre-order directly from Blue Heron Books, give me a shout out to let me know you did. I might be able to come up with some swag for BLUE HERON SHOPPERS ONLY.
Once you place that order with BLUE HERON, let me know. Send an email to kevintcraig@hotmail. com with a screenshot and your mailing address. I’ll see what I can do! If you go in person, which clearly would be the best way to place your pre-order, snap a shot and send it along!
I have now been home from Paris about one and a half weeks. Paris never lasts long enough, does it?!
I thought that by bringing a great nugget of Paris home with me, I would somehow prolong my visit…if only in my head and in my heart. But like being given your favourite treats and attempting to make them last, I have now devoured the last of that great nugget I carried back across the pond with me.
The nugget of which I speak? A book. A tome I thought would last a little longer. A tome I devoured all too quickly!
Shakespeare & Company Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart. This is going down as THE most magical book I ever read. Read isn’t even right…it doesn’t cover what I did. I fell into this book. I immersed myself in this book. So divine, it was!
To think, Michael practically had to twist my arm to get me to buy it during our first visit this time around to the iconic and beautiful madhouse of books. There’s no place quite like Shakespeare & Company Bookstore at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, Paris. I hemmed and I hawed. The price would put it somewhere in the vicinity of extravagant as a self-purchase and I really wrung my hands over it. Should I? Shouldn’t I? In the end, Michael prevailed. He talked me into purchasing the thing I MOST wanted to purchase in all the store.
I HAVE NO REGRETS. Such a beautiful rambling read through the history of my favourite international bookstore, which also, itself, has a tendency to ramble through space and time.
George Whitman was a formidable presence in the universe. I believed that before opening the book, and I know it now. He was a magician with a gravitational pull that rivaled the universe itself. He was the moon, orchestrating the tides of ‘Tumbleweeds’ in and out of his magical bookstore for decades.
I’ve loved Shakespeare & Company since I first learned about its first incarnation, created by Sylvia Beach and found originally at 8 Rue Dupuytren and then the bigger location at 12 rue de l’Odéon. George Whitman was the perfect successor of the name (Whitman changed the name of the current day Shakespeare & Company from Le Mistral in 1964, presumably with Ms. Beach’s blessing). He carried with him the same kind of generosity of heart and spirit as his predecessor.
Here’s the description of the book from Amazon:
A copiously illustrated account of the famed Paris bookstore on its 65th anniversary
This first-ever history of the legendary bohemian bookstore in Paris interweaves essays and poetry from dozens of writers associated with the shop–Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, Ethan Hawke, Robert Stone and Jeanette Winterson, among others–with hundreds of never-before-seen archival pieces, including photographs of James Baldwin, William Burroughs and Langston Hughes, plus a foreword by the celebrated British novelist Jeanette Winterson and an epilogue by Sylvia Whitman, the daughter of the store’s founder, George Whitman. The book has been edited by Krista Halverson, director of the newly founded Shakespeare and Company publishing house.
George Whitman opened his bookstore in a tumbledown 16th-century building just across the Seine from Notre-Dame in 1951, a decade after the original Shakespeare and Company had closed. Run by Sylvia Beach, it had been the meeting place for the Lost Generation and the first publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses. (This book includes an illustrated adaptation of Beach’s memoir.) Since Whitman picked up the mantle, Shakespeare and Company has served as a home-away-from-home for many celebrated writers, from Jorge Luis Borges to Ray Bradbury, A.M. Homes to Dave Eggers, as well as for young authors and poets. Visitors are invited not only to read the books in the library and to share a pot of tea, but sometimes also to live in the bookstore itself–all for free.
More than 30,000 people have stayed at Shakespeare and Company, fulfilling Whitman’s vision of a “socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.” Through the prism of the shop’s history, the book traces the lives of literary expats in Paris from 1951 to the present, touching on the Beat Generation, civil rights, May ’68 and the feminist movement–all while pondering that perennial literary question, “What is it about writers and Paris?”
If you want to read an extraordinarily moving history of one of the world’s most astonishing bookstores, you need to have this book in your life. It would also make a fantastic present for the literary lover in your life. I know I’m going to cherish my copy forever. Now that I’ve read it, I know with certainty that is a book that will give me much joy in future re-readings. I could not put it down. Wandering through its pages felt much the same as wandering through the crooked little rooms and alcoves and mystery spaces splattered with books and things inside Shakespeare & Company itself.