Seattle is losing an independent bookstore but I won't shed a tear. I went in their twice and both times the staff was less than hospitable. A disincentive to return, no doubt, but even more damning when one considers the incredibly knowledgeable staff at Elliott Bay Book Co. and the ever-friendly staff at Queen Anne Books, two spots that I frequent. Still, it is disappointing to see an independent run out of business even in the nation's most well-read city.
And speaking of Elliott Bay Book Co., I was in there last weekend when I encountered a rather hilarious pair of young hipster of literati. One said to the other: "I stopped reading Russian literature in late 2003 because (indecipherable)."
In light of our less-than-successful efforts to jump-start a Dostoevsky book club I was curious to see where this was going. I slithered from the M's to the D's and mindlessly leafed through The Salterton Trilogy with I'll surveilled the audio.
Fellow #1: "Have you read this?"
Fellow #2: "Yes, but I can't help but think it's a bad translation."
Fellow #1: "Why do you say that?"
Fellow #2: "I've always felt that translations of Chinese can get away with being lazy because no one will ever be able to check them for accuracy."
Fellow #1: "You're right, I hadn't though of that. Nobody speaks Chinese."
WTF? I am hard pressed to think a more eurocentric utterance I've overheard while browsing in a bookstore. And I've heard some dumb shit along these lines but nothing quite so profoundly idiotic . The most populous country in the world and nary a literary scholar speaks the language? You're right, I hadn't thought of that. It makes really unhappy that I missed hearing why the fellow stopped reading Russian literature.
"...it didn't match my man purse."
"...it was too painful after the murder of Ivan Calderon."
"...after reading The Da Vinci Code it was hard to take Tolstoy seriously."
Whatever it was, I am sure it was memorable.