Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cheapest rent in Paris

In 1951 a man by the name of George Whitman opened a bookstore in Paris, and with the blessing of an aging Sylvia Beach, he inherited her shop's namesake Shakespeare and Company. Today, now 97 and living upstairs above the books, his creation has been passed down to his intelligent, fashionable, vibrant daughter Sylvia. It is here, among these ancient bookshelves, where I sleep, where I live, where I read.

Long ago George made it a place where readers and writers could come and linger, hang out, chill, and chat about books and life. And by putting a few small beds in between the book shelves he invited aspiring writers to stay and linger a little longer.
I wandered over to the bookstore on a breezy but bright morning. Sylvia looked me up and down, told me it is not a hostel it is a writers in residence program and the accommodations are limited and rustic but if I can handle that I was welcomed to stay. I happily agreed.

My new gig in Paris comes with a few responsibilities. Those who stay in the bookstore (there are currently 5 of us which is about the max) are asked to help open the shop (10am) help close the (11pm) and donate two hours a day to shelving books and assisting customers when they're searching the vast and somewhat confusing layout of this ancient landmark house of literature.

The days are long and enlightening, filled with writing, wandering and wondering. I have no idea how long I will call this shop home, but for now, waking up with a view of Notre Dame, sorting great works of literature, living the life of an expat in Paris and taking rest on a bed where Joyce or Hemingway, or David Foster Wallace or Austin, or, or, or is never more than an arms reach away certainly suits my creative side for the time being.


pat Bognar said...

You did it Brad!!! Congratulations!! and stay there as long as you can, or find another "cheap" hostel-like hotel. Are there still family-run hotels? We stayed in one for 2 years, another for a year, and it was just fine, and then we rented an apt. "under the table"--lots of people rent their apts. like that so they don't have to pay taxes on the income. Is the American Church still around? The bulletin board there was amazing--lots of people wanting lessons in English, etc., etc., all under the table...good luck and keep updating your blog! Pat

Tenshi Rising said...

I never knew of this place when I was in Paris. And one of my favorite movies highlighted it years later..."Before Sunset." It's one of my comfort movies. I'm watching it now actually...I fall asleep to it most weeks.

I love the whole emotional world your first shot carries. I can smell the dusty books. And in the second...the air feels crisp and slightly warming. Love it.

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