Sunday, January 6

Around Seattle

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.

" didn't match my man purse."
" 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.

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