Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Reading

34, rue Saint-Louis en l´├«le, 2011

January 31, 2011

They've gone. I am alone now. Having grown used to such fullness, each day bulging with activity, today feels quite hollow. It grows later, yet I hesitate. A reading. Do I really want to leave my new apartment? It will be my home for such a short time. It's terribly warm and comforting and I'm feeling rather lazy. Yes, yes. I should go. No, don't make it a should. Make it a want. Okay, I want to go. I'll be happy. I know I will. Up already. I go. It is cold, very cold, but my journey is brief. I settle into one of the last available seats and soon she is before me, just a few feet away. It is an intimate space. A tiny Left Bank bookstore brimming with books and people. She begins. Her voice, at first curt and British, a bit rough, is soon reined in to soft. And then she finds it, she's exactly where she wants to be. Her voice sways with perfect cadence and the chill I've brought inside with me begins to dissipate. All that was rigid is now relaxed and I begin to take in my surroundings. Books, old and new, stacked to the ceiling, uneven columns on the verge of collapse. It is dusty and warm. The eyes around me look tired and hungry, yet patient, fully willing to wait for food and sleep. I sit quietly against the west wall of books, their spines making faint impressions in mine. The lower shelf I sit upon seems to become harder as the night progresses and I strain to keep my shifting silent. Climbing into her world is difficult, as I am so immersed in my own. So much new. Her voice slows and then finishes. There are questions. Why do they always seem to disappoint? And then it is over and I am jolted as all of the bodies stand at once and the wine begins to flow. But this is not my ending. I wrap myself up beneath the necessary layers, push through the crowd, and hurry into the icy night air beside the river. Quiet, cold, the traffic a simple hum. Lights twinkle all around me and scattered flakes of snow fall slowly as I cross the bridge and head back toward the island. I climb what seem a great many well worn steps and then I am sealed tightly inside, four stories up, behind my cerulean door.

The Still Point


  1. Welcome back, Denise...you were missed! An intimate reading in a tiny book shop sounds rather perfect. What a lovely experience you've had. This is one of my favourite posts by you.

  2. how wonderful and guess what's been on my nightstand for a few days now? i have the us version with butterflies on the cover. can't wait to read it. xo

  3. This is so lovely.
    I wish I had been there.

  4. I always enjoy climbing into your little world, if just for a moment. The book sounds mighty appealing, too. Nice to see you blogging again. :-)

  5. alexandria, Thanks! It was a really nice part of my trip.

    shari, I cannot believe you have the book. I was thinking of telling you about it, imagining it would be something you might like. You'll have to let me know what you think. I'm curious as to how much her reading had an impact on my reading. I suppose I'll never really know.

    Tea, Thank you. It was a good night and it would have been a pleasure to see you there. I'm sure you would have enjoyed it.

    Joanna, So kind of you to visit and climb inside. It's a special book. I'm really happy to be home and writing in this space again -- home sweet home.

  6. Adding one more voice, a rather raspy one, to the chorus of how you've been missed.

    There I hit the high note.

    I don't know the author nor the book. What a treat for me.

    Warm welcome home.

    xo jane

  7. Your journey is vivid. I wish I could express my writing as well as you do. Lovely images as usual. One observation. I was distracted for a moment and when I glanced back to continue reading - it took me a while to find where I left off. I was wondering why you choose to not have paragraphs. Perhaps I'm missing something here.

  8. I too walked by the river and down those streets ... contemplated whether to leave the room or not as I read your post. Thank you for taking me there. So you've been in Paris - moi jealous!

  9. Hey there, I've missed you and thanks for the wonderful photo and text. I was so gripped by this and know well that hollow feeling of being alone after days with others and going back and forth over whether to leave my apartment. Just beautiful and I'm going to look for a copy in my bookstore this week. Take care.

  10. you've just made me want to be there now.
    welcome home, yes.

  11. Once again, you have transported me into your world. The cold, the books,the reading. Then warm and cozy behind a blue door. Welcome back.

  12. Ah, were you at Shakespeare & Co.? It sounds divine, anything in Paris is divine!

  13. Thank you, dear Jane. Good to be here.

    Mariana, Good question. I change format to fit each piece. I often look at a piece broken up into paragraphs and also as a solid block of text to see which feels right. I liked this piece as one continuous block of text.

    Janis, Thank you for joining me. Paris, it was an interesting adventure. I really miss the small cans of Flageolets Verts (Extra Fins). I think I ate 3 cans in one week. It's the little things.

    Hello, Vanessa. Thank you for a warm welcome home. I hope you enjoy The Still Point. It's had mixed reviews, so it's not for everyone, but I certainly enjoyed it.

    woolf, I hope you visit this little book shop. It's a nice space.

    Michele, Thank you. It's nice to be home.

    elizabeth, Yes, I was at Shakespeare and Company. It turned out to be such a lovely evening.

  14. What a dilemma. I too would have been tempted to say where it was cozy and warm. As always, thank you for the book recommendation. And I'll be in Paris soon and will most definitely check out that bookstore. Welcome back....

  15. Welcome back Denise, you've been missed. I love that bookstore, and would have loved to have seen a reading while in Paris. I'm glad to see you're posting again.

  16. A warm island, a cerulean door nestled somewhere in a twinkling, snowy world. Beautiful images.

  17. Thank you for sharing this cozy Left Bank experience--beautiful, real writing "I sit against the west wall of books, their spines making faint impressions in mine."

    love that.

    intrigued, too, by Amy Sackville and her debut novel.

    nice to have you back!

  18. have you been at Shakespeare And Company?! sounds just like it...i so loved it there... every time i visit paris i just have to go there...and: welcome back!

  19. mosey, Enjoy Paris. Maybe coffee and a chat to compare notes when you return?

    Nicolette, It was a treat to see a reading somewhere so far from home. I really enjoyed it.

    Rachael, Thank you. That means a lot coming from someone who writes so beautifully.

    nancy, I really like the spines sentence too. Thank you for noticing.

    WSAKE, Yes, you've guessed it. I've been to the quirky little Shakespeare And Company of Paris.

  20. hello how nice to see you're back! And with a beautifully intimate piece on your encounter.... Thank you for your comment on my 'remedy' ... I can't say I always know how to bounce back...rather now knowto try not to fight it but let it wash over me knowing that it will pass... The Still Point sounds wonderful - I shall be hunting it out immediately. Have a lovely weekend Denise...

  21. So glad to see you back in this space. I've missed your words.

    'Climbing into her world is difficult, as I am so immersed in my own'...funny how today, as I took a break to visit your space, I felt completely immersed in my own world. But your writing easily brought me right into yours...the power of your prose.

  22. I have been so busy D! And I do not want to spill out all the jouy here but it has arrived and has been worn every day since! I will write more properly soon. Many, many many thanks!

  23. Annie, Yes, allowing it to wash over seems a good solution to me. I hope you like The Still Point. Considering your mood lately I feel I should mention that it is a very good, albeit melancholy, novel.

    Rachel, Your comment really made my day. Thank you so much.

    Anne Marie, Yes! It's arrived. So good to know. Stay warm.

  24. I will have to get this book now. And I loved, as always, your recounting of the experience. So glad you had a good trip - Paris is gorgeous and inspiring, even when bitterly cold.

    much love,

  25. Dear Maria, I think you'll like it. xx, Denise