At Denfert. I imagine a misty veil coming down over the image, suddenly it’s a hundred years ago and it’s the same same square but photographed by Atget and there are people in the background wearing tall hats. In the background, andthere are horses and carts crossing the street. But is there the still the medium’s caravan next to the recently-opened metro entrance?
So everyone knows that there is a network of tunnels under Paris, the Carrières. I people know that they’re watching movies down there and having parties and singing and dancing. And that there is another part the catacombs filled with skulls that is making a fortune for the Paris town hall. I should know, we live right next to the exit. But there is also another network: a network of underground (in Paris) water-distribution channels, the Aqueduc Médicis, which was made a new hundred years earlier. There are still access points scattered around Paris. There is one in the observatory gardens. And there’s another one here…
Near here, there’s the rue de l’Aude. The last two years, to bring not-always so talkative Parisian neighbours together, an enormous breakfast brunch in the street has been organised…. Yes, another photograph with empty chairs!
In the last few days I covered many weeks … and now we are once again the Richard Powers reading at Shakespeare and Co. On that evening I was so distracted that I took almost no photographs, which was a great missed photographic opportunity. It was the first time in a long time that I had spent any length of time in the store. In the fifteen or so years since I arrived in Paris shop has expanded considerably. A few closed back rooms have been opened, there is a new entrance at the rear, and a cafe has opened next door. There is a fellow at the door controlling how many people enter the shop, because, well it’s a bit small inside. And, of course, George Whitman is no longer alive and his daughter, Sylvia (yes named after a certain Sylvia Beach) has taken over the shop. It seems to be doing very well, judging by the number of people one can find in there I just hope that they are all buying books.
I met George just once I think. Everyone knows the stories. There was a tradition of readings on a Monday evening and I had written and memorised a poem about a certain Lithuanian writer which I recited almost as if possessed. It wasn’t enough to write a poem, you have to memorise it too. After the reading we were invited to George’s flat where he served us chilli. There was an enormous quantity of food which even I didn’t manage to finish. It was explained to me that George was of that post-war generation that still remembered not having enough to eat. This must have been around 2005. I am very happy to see the store prosper.