outwait outrun outwit


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02.12.06, sunday night

Not just any bar or bookshop will work for me. I like bookshops that are small but whose contents are well-chosen, like bookstands you might find in flea markets or in squares, where you can find selected poems of Carol Ann Duffy, an illustrated gold-embossed cornflower blue 1863 edition of Robinson Crusoe or leather-bound Prussian train timetables with maps and descriptions of towns, monasteries, fields etc included. I like bars where the tables have paint jobs worn thin by the restless cruise and quest of wrists and glass-bottoms. You can order anything in the world in this bar, ouzo, cava, vodka, grappa, cognac, even Mexican hot chocolate. And it's not just the setting or the wares that distinguishes this bookshop or bar from any other bookshop or bar. Their keepers are vigilant and careful. The bookseller must wear trenchcoats, maintain a respectful distance that never reek of an obsequious desperation, and exert a discernment that is at once exacting and without snobbery. The bartender must always have one trait by which you cannot forget them, like a perfume of crushed gardenias or Catalan as only language, but s/he must always speak with a confident understanding of what you want, even if you don't exactly know what you want. Here, in this bookshop or that bar, you will find exactly what you needed, and must always leave satisfied, even if you hadn't bought a thing. It is enough to caress a rare gilt spine or stroke the graffiti carved into a table top, for however sad, distracted, or homeless you may be at the moment, the world would remain as round as it could be with a place like this in it.


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