Art and the philosophy of life

Image result for free picture of sylvia beach and shakespeare and company

“Ms Beach, I’d like to work for you.”

“Well, that’s very nice, I’m sure, but I can’t afford to hire anyone.”

“I’ll work for books and maybe a sandwich, now and then.”

“Oh, my dear.  I couldn’t let you do that.”

“Please.  This is my dream job.  I’d be happy to work for free.”

“But I’ve only just opened the shop.  How will you live?”

“I’ll manage, believe me.  I have savings.”


“You’re going to be more famous than you can possibly imagine.  Everyone who loves books, will know your name and the amazing things you did.”

“Now you’re just being silly.”

“I’m not.  Trust me.”

“You can sort the books on the table over there,” she said, pointing to the stacks and I’ll pay you what I can.”

“Thank you.”

“Do you speak French?”

“Non.  But I will learn.”

“I’m going across the street to talk to…”

“Adrienne Monnier.”

“Have you been to her shop?”

“Not yet.”

“I see.”

“And Gertrude Stein sucks,”  I said, more loudly than I had intended.

“I beg your pardon,” said Ms. Beach, taken back.

“She’s a bully and an egomaniac, so don’t be fooled by her.  She wants people, well artists and writers really, to be her lap dogs, until they disagree with her.  Then she kicks them to the curb.  Her partner is her guard dog who answers the door and decides who gets to see her and who doesn’t.  The wives are led to another room, while the guys get an audience.  Be happy she won’t bother you.”

“Do you know her?”

“Not personally.  I’ve read a lot about her.”


“In books that for you, haven’t been written yet.  And, a guy named Hemingway will write stories that were lived by others, but he will say he lived them himself.  Well, some of them anyway. Another gigantic ego. He cheats on his wife all the time too.”


“Ernest.  You’ll be meeting him soon.”

“I will?”

“Yes.  He’ll borrow books and you’ll be happy to let him do that.”

“I will?”

“You will.  Everyone will be broke.  And someone named James Joyce will come into your life.  You’ll see a lot of him.  Bad eyesight but you’ll work together for quite some time.  He’s broke too, but manages to live very well.  You’ll love him.  You are the hub that everything revolves around.  Or you will be.  I just want to watch it all happen.”

“I’m going to tea.  Dust up a bit after you shelve the books.”


“We can talk when I return.”

“Looking forward to it, believe me.”

“Yes, well.  This is all very strange.”

“I know. It really is.  And you might want to think about taking your sign in at night, so people don’t keep stealing it.”

“Why would someone steal my sign.”

“Uh, not sure.  It’s just a suggestion.”

“If you need me…”

“Yes, I know where you’ll be.  You’re smaller than I thought you’d be, you know.”

“I am?”

“But you’re as charming and delightful as everyone said.”

“Who said?”

“The people you’re going to meet.”

“How do you know all these things?”

“I’m from the future.”

“I’ll be back later,” said Ms. Beach, shaking her head.

“Have fun.  I’ll watch the shop.”








Comments on: "Shakespeare and Company…a short story…for Becky, at PLATFORM NUMBER 4, who suggested I write something about this." (9)

  1. Oh, my gosh…I love it! It’s obvious that you really had fun writing this!

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