good morning and happy monday everyone. you’re pretty much on your own for links today as fitzie is travelling from Colorado to DC.
Last week I read the unfortunate news that the former owner of Capitol Hill Books died at age 86.
The man, Jim Toole, was a retired rear admiral known for his grumpy and loveable personality.
Capitol Hill Books is, in a word: magical.
Every nook and cranny is filled with the written word. Above and below them are quirky handwritten signs (“Read him, dammit!” one sign posts) that almost act as a map to literary discovery.
I believe I only had one interaction with Toole some months ago. After spending a good 20 minutes on on the second floor (Fiction) I eventually landed on The Charterhoues of Parma by Stendhal.
I went downstairs to check out.
“Ah! I wish I had the chance to read this in my lifetime,” Toole told me.
“There’s still a chance,” a friendly customer at the store replied back.
I knew nothing about the book, but for some reason, in that moment, I felt as if I had been given a giant seal of approval.
I began reading it later that day. And let me tell you, it is a slog.
The Charterhouse of Parma recounts the exploits of a nobleman during the Napoleanic years. There’s all sorts of drama involved that is not always caused by Fabrice del Dongo.
It contains a multitude of characters maneuvering through the dynamics of different courts in different countries in different eras. I’m having a hard time with it.
Two months have passed since that day and I am not even one-third of the way through it.
I had to put it down. Since then I’ve read four other books and am halfway through reading Reading Lolita in Tehran.
I had no intention of finishing The Chaterhouse of Parma. But the news of Toole’s death has got me thinking differently, and now I am remembering the brief interaction I had with him.
“Ah! I wish I had the chance to read this in my lifetime.”
Of course, there’ll be thousands of books I will never get to read. And one day I will probably say a similar message to someone I meet.
But I don’t want to say that about The Charterhouse of Parma. So once I am done reading Reading Lolita in Tehran (and maybe this Raymond Chandler book I picked up at the store the other week) I will again open the pages of Stendhal and finish the book.
I did receive the seal of approval after all.
Fitzie’s track of the day: Take the ‘A’ Train, by Charles Mingus and friends
And now for your links: