Raymond and I have had an absolutely splendid few days at the Manse, enjoying our big bright house and pretty little Queensborough and the things we found to do in the area. But the weekend’s fun began with an event not in Queensborough but a couple of hours further east, in Brockville, Ont. In that historic and attractive town, our friend and longtime colleague Gordon Beck, photographer extraordinaire, and his wife, Ewa, have just opened a gallery called From Here to Infinity. In this gorgeously restored main-street building you’ll find both Gordon’s own work and the artwork of others; and you’ll find books, and lots of them. Gordon collects books like Raymond and I do, only perhaps (if that is possible) more so; so the entire rear section of From Here to Infinity is take up by shelves loaded down with the fruits of his many years of book collecting – and they are for sale!
Knowing Raymond and I as you do by now – having seen the books stacked in our living room (before a lot of them were moved to the Manse), and newly shelved in the study at the Queensborough house, and turned into a festive book tree at Christmas – you can probably guess what Raymond and I did when we stopped in to the opening of Gordon’s gallery. Yes, people: we bought books. It turns out that Gordon’s taste in books is very, very similar to ours. There were a lot of history books, with a great emphasis on local (i.e. various parts of Ontario and Quebec) history. There were travel books, and books of biography, and many, many books of art and photography. It was like looking through our own books, except there were some we didn’t have yet! So we had to buy them.
And it gave us an idea: why don’t we do this with our own books? Not the ones we absolutely must keep, mind you; we are like Gordon, who told us that he has a whole other (large) stash of his own books that would not be going onto the gallery shelves. But let’s face it: when you have as many books as Raymond and I do, you find you have quite a few that you could live without. Or that you have got as much enjoyment out of as you ever will, so don’t mind saying good-bye to. And then there are the duplicates, which we have thanks to our closely aligned tastes in books (and thus each having brought to the marriage of our two libraries quite a few of the same thing) – and to the fact that Raymond keeps forgetting he already has several copies of Stephen King’s book about the Red Sox (it’s called Faithful) and keeps buying more at used-book sales.
So yeah, why not a used-book shop? Perhaps this could be the little commercial enterprise that I keep insisting Queensborough needs. Why, maybe we could turn our little white garage into a cute little bookstore!
And maybe Gordon will come and take some of them off our hands. Hey, the subject matter is right up his alley.