Weeks upon weeks ago I was in a used bookshop. It’s one of the cramped ones downtown that’s a bit more expensive than some, but that tends to have more of the (non-sf) stuff I like. I edged past a woman into the literature section and we mad excuse me noises and I set to examining the shelves.
Then she started talking to me. Just about the joy of a good bookshop. She was tall and had a southern hemisphere type accent. I talked back. A few sentences in either direction as I scanned shelves.
There was a long silence as we stood back to back reading the walls. And then she asked if I’d ever read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. I hadn’t. She found it on a list of The 100 Greatest Books of the Twentieth Century that the shop had posted, so I could find the author’s spelling. She said it was her favourite book in the world, she didn’t have to question it. She urged me to read it, with an intensity I’m not used to being on the receiving end of. I told her I would.
I asked if she’d read Haruki Murakami and she said she had but felt like she didn’t get him. We parted without much more, though I remember her name was Ilse. I took The Heart is a Lonely Hunter out from the library that day.
I took the book out but didn’t get to reading it for weeks. The week before last I started. It went slowly, and I wasn’t much into it until Friday. That day I went for breakfast. I don’t know what exactly happened. I was just sitting there with my waffle and my coffee and in the story a child was shot and the book became awesome. I carried the feeling of the book around with me all day, savouring it. It was just perfect. The rest of it I savoured. And it was so good and so sad.
I finished the book yesterday. You can read a review here, but it doesn’t capture anything essential about my experience of reading it. Neither does this, I know. Thank you, Ilse from the used bookstore. Your recommendation was great.bison books breakfast carson mccullers haruki murakami the heart is a lonely hunter waffle winnipeg