Friday, July 02, 2004

The Sixpence House by Paul Collins - Or Buying Books on Vacation

True confessions - English teachers on vacation love to go to book stores in cool new places. Yes, I bought books while on vacation. At the bookstore at Hollins University, where Annie Dillard went to college, I bought a book about the Annie Dillard, Lee Smith and the Hollins Writers. At Atlantic Books and Folk Art in Asheville, N.C., I bought a used paperback copy of Anne Tylers Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (see later entry). At Carl Sandburg's Home we bought a few poetry books and at the Thomas Wolfe House we bought a copy of Look Homeward, Angel. In Richmond Virginia we escaped a thunderstorm by spending an hour in Cafe Gutenberg, the cutest establishment labled Books, Coffee & Wine Lounge. While it rained, I read so many of the poems in Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth by Alice Walker that I decided to buy the book. And I was very intriqued by a little paperback by Paul Collins called The Sixpence House, with the subtitle, Lost in a Town of Books. I bought it and read it almost entirely in a lavish room with two couches in The Jefferson Hotel. Collins, who works for David Egger's McSweeney's Books, took his wife and baby from San Francisco to live in the little village of Hay-on-Wye. This Welsh village has the distinction of having fifteen hundred inhabitants and fory bookstores. I loved reading this book and underlined lots of passages that I will probably use in class someday. In the ending of this memoir he describes trying to return to the U.S. without a passport in a scene that I labled Catch-22.

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