|La librairie des Jardins des Tuileries, Musée du Louvre|
In remembering the wonderful whirl of events in France of last spring, I am chagrined to find no mention of certain remarkable engagements in the Bay Area earlier in the year. Time has been running away.
It’s been fascinating to see how one talk has led to another. It has been my extremely good fortune to make presentations at the Mechanics’ Institute Library in San Francisco on both my books about France. For over a century after providing essential resources for reconstructing the city after the 1906 earthquake, a wonderfully preserved building still serves as a cornerstone for the community.
A versatile gathering room on the 4th floor allows a wonderful conversation with the audience. Upon entering the long room, the guest is greeted with a glass of wine at the back bar. Arrays of comestibles line the table at the window, to be savored at nearby café tables. Rows of chairs face the front where the speaker holds forth with microphone, computer and screen.
It was at my talk on Champagne Regained at Mechanics’ Institute Library event that a most fortunate occurrence took place. In the audience that evening was a woman who had borrowed materials on Slovenia to plan a trip there. That event offered us a chance to pass back the books, but this delightful new friend then booked me for two of the most stunning venues in northern California. In Berkeley at the Town and Gown and in San Francisco at the Town and Country, book lovers congregated in a historic auditorium designed by Julia Morgan and an exquisitely appointed salon facing Union Square, respectively.
Later in the spring I was privileged to give a talk that marked the end of an era at Orinda Books in the East Bay. A bright new ownership took over from one of the area’s most revered literary centers. Here’s wishing every success in all the new ventures.
I hope that you, Dear Reader, will forgive chronological deficiencies. As I sit here in a first moment of quiet contemplation in many moons, I feel like Proust eating a mound of madeleines – such a wealth of souvenirs.
Trying to decipher the French-Slovenian-American book trade has brought eye-rubbing experiences overall. What a golden chain still bands us together despite all onslaughts to the written word! Discoveries related to the research perhaps can be expected, but the riches gained from dealing with bibliophiles defy quantification.