It might have been my haircut. He might have thought I was a CIA agent. The French government even shut him down for a while in accusing him of housing Communists during the May student riots in Paris, which he was. I met him in May We were never introduced, but I spoke with him one time at the front desk of his bookstore.
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He stumbles into Shakespeare and Co. George Whitman has run the store since Mercer explains that Whitman opened it after the death of Sylvia Beach, who founded the first Shakespeare and Co. Although events like Sylvia Beach spending World War II in an internment camp and Hemingway liberating the premises in are fascinating, it is quite a dry retelling and largely confined to one chapter.
Whitman hates money and dreams of his estranged daughter taking the helm. I would also call Whitman manipulative and authoritarian. Mercer refers to Shakespeare and Co. Mercer reveals that his experiences with alcohol, other drugs, reckless behaviour and even violence, pushed him to seek sanctuary in Shakespeare and Co. But to live there for more than a few weeks or months seems escapist. Shakespeare and Co. It also shares intimate portrayals of the man behind the store and a young man pulling his life away from a path of self destruction.
Mercer explains how his job as a crime reporter numbed him before he came to Shakespeare and Co. Tragic accidents, grisly death, devastated mothers — the hyperbole of daily crime reporting turned writing into a Lego exercise requiring blocks of strong adjectives and simple nouns.
More time spent on the central character, Jeremy Mercer, not just cataloguing his past indiscretions, might also have made Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs a more engaging read.
Review: Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs
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