There is a bookstore in the neighborhood which I ended up walking into today. I do not remember the name of the place but it's just as well. The place is stuffed with arbitrarily crammed bookshelves which rise up to the ceiling and one has to tiptoe around them for the fear of making one wrong move and bringing the whole place down in an academic tumult. There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason in the arrangement of the books on the shelves either. So while Joyce is found jousting with Zola, art history blends effortlessly into biographies with nary a seam to be seen. The air columns separating the gray ones have the unmistakable smell of stuffed paper and they are colored in sparkling gold-dust as a lone sunbeam finds its way inside the shop and illuminates the suspended dust particles in streaks of yellow. I move my hand through it and the dust is perturbed. A little part of the mighty Sun, which continues to burn away aimlessly in a void, is captured in the contours of the liquid dance of dust. The solar shaft ends on Huxley and a brave new world is prominently called up on stage. Although purely coincidental, a romantic must dream! I stood there wondering if the time of the bookstore is finally up as the brave new world takes over. '21 years,' said the owner when I asked him how long has he had the place. I mentioned that during these 21 years he must have seen a tremendous amount of change. 'Yes,' he said adding, however, that it's merely transitory, as if to imply that the good old days of yesteryear are bound to come back as the wheel of time inevitably complete its rotation. The wheel may be broken now, I thought, as I saw him selling a used book for 54 cents.
Ours is a time of short attention spans and slick surfaces, a time in which the rough and antediluvian presence of bookstores is fast becoming anachronistic. It's a little sad, especially to a nostalgist like me but it does seem inevitable. I do not remember the name of the place but as I said, it's probably just as well.