Yesterday it was free comic book day. I never miss a free comic book day at Edie’s, my beloved local used book store, Edie’s. (Edie’s is not actually called Edie’s. It’s called Hole in the Wall books, woefully inadequate website here.)
I didn't actually take any comic books, but sometimes on busy days, I stop by and offer to run the register for Edie while she goes and gets a cup of coffee. Also, I have a long list of books I am looking for and authors I will always buy, so Edie has a cubby for me in the back where she puts books for me. Yesterday, she'd turned up a copy of Robertson Davies' novel What's Bred in the Bone.
As I was checking out, a lady in a painted sweatshirt came through the door. She took one look at my purchase and squealed.
"That is the best book ever written!"
"Um... I like it," I managed to respond. That's a significant understatement, actually, but the woman made me nervous.
"It's about the male and female dynamic within all of us... and the marriage at Cana, and... and... I'm Robertson Davies' biggest fan!"
If pressed on the issue, I would say that it was largely about the forces that make us who we are and what it takes to live a satisfying life, but I wasn't going to get into it with this person.
"The whole Cornish Triology is good," I said.
"Yes, and the first one. About the plays and the singer," she said.
"The Salterton Trilogy?" I asked.
"Yes. That one was great. I didn't like the other one," she said.
"The Deptford Trilogy?" I asked.
"It was weird, I didn't understand it," she said.
"The one I didn't like was Murther and the Walking Spirits," I said. "My theory is that Davies was working on a new style. You can see some of that in The Cunning Man right after. But I think he died before he really got there. It's too bad. I think he was in the process of stumbling on to something new."
"Uh huh." The woman said in the tone of someone who had not actually read Murther and the Walking Spirits.
And she went back to talking and went on for awhile about how wonderful Robertson Davies was.
And I tried not to think of the epigraph to Davies' book of essays, A View from the Attic:
A book is a mirror: if a monkey looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out. -G.C. (Georg Christoph) Lichtenberg
But I was unsuccessful.