Yesterday I was feeling out of sorts and terribly restless after a miserable Friday night so Saturday morning I was on a mission. I had to find the perfect book to keep me company. I wanted John Berger and I wanted him now, namely Here is Where We Meet: a story of Crossing Paths. I love the title. Obviously. (If this isn’t obvious see About Me).
Did my two local libraries have it? No! So off I went to Rice’s Bookshop, an institution in Newcastle, now in its 43rd year of trading. They didn’t have any of Berger’s books but I did find Rupert Brooke: Life, Death & Myth by Nigel Jones. God knows when I will get to read it as it is 461 pages long but it looks much more approachable than another biography I have of the famous poet, the man who many people considered to be the most beautiful in England.
Brooke has fascinated me for a long time and in 1997, after I read a collection of his poems, in particular his last entitled Fragment, he began to haunt my thoughts for weeks. Eventually I exorcised him by writing a long poem entitled Conversation with a Dead Poet.
Anyway, no Berger but a good book to read. Undeterred I headed off to Indigo Books further up Hunter Street. There I found a number of Berger’s but not the one I wanted. The excellent To the Wedding was there but I have read that and there were two others that didn’t interest me and were not the perfect book for a grey Autumn Day.
I did find three possible contenders though, all short books and two authors unknown to me. The three books I bought from Indigo were another Ian McEwan,The Comfort of Strangers, one of his early ones; Waiting for Leah by Arnost Lustig, a Czech author writing about a Nazi prison camp in northern Bohemia in 1944; and The Quartet by Francois Emmanuel, a writer and psychiatrist from Belgium. One of his novels won the Prix Victor Rossel. This novel is about a sinister dossier and the links between big business and the darkest hour of Europe. Thank God for secondhand bookshops.
You will – eventually – find my reviews of all four on goodreads, the three short ones in the not too distant future. (Reviews done 31/5/12).