First let me descibe the café. (Actually there are two cafes, but in these reports I merge them.) Anyway, I sit at one of its two long tables, which can comfortably seat three on each side and one at each end. Usually I have it to myself. I sit on the center chair on the side facing east, with my lap top and legal pads in front of me, my display and “Buy Bob’s Books” sign to their left facing north. I think of it as “my” table, but I am willing to share.
Thursday, Adele came with me. A Chinese woman who never stays long and with whom I have a nod “Hello” relationship was sitting at the table’s south end, and a man I’d never seen before sat across from my customary seat but to my left. He had a short white beard, a zippered wind breaker, a ball cap of undecipherable inscription. He was on a lap top; his back pack was on the center chair; there was no third chair.
Adele, who likes to face me, asked him to move his pack.
He told her to get a chair from another table.
Not a gentlemanly response, I thought. But I’d had a spat the day before with a fellow outside the Cheeseboard who took offense when I got too close while tacking up a poster advertising Adele’s and my reading. That was enough aggression for one week, so I let it slide, except to nudge his water bottle back across the mid-line when I laid out my books.
Adele – noisily – dragged over a chair. We did our work and went to my cardiology appointment.
Friday, I had the table to myself.
But after I’d been there 45-minutes the fellow arrived. He took the same chair and put his back pack on the chair to his right. I moved my books back across the mid-line toward me. We both did what we did in silence until I was preparing to leave when he said, “Bob, do you write screenplays?”
I said I did not and asked if he did.
He said he did not but had an idea which he wanted someone to develop into one.
I said that would probably be expensive and recommended Syd Field’s book on the subject.
He then asked me which of my books was funniest.
That was a new question. I didn’t have a ready answer, so I described each of them. iefly.
He became most interested in “The Schiz.” He asked if the Berkeley Public Library had it. (He said he could not buy it because he did not own a bookcase.)
“Let’s see,” I said.
I googled, and not only did they not have it, they seemed to have de-acquisitioned the books of mine they used to have. (Their goes their charitable donation, I thought.)
Then I checked Worldcat to find the closest library which had it. UC Berkeley won. (Also the LA Public, and five other libraries in the U.S.)
He took a picture of the cover and said he would ask the public library to order it. Then he asked me if I’d read “Anna Karenina.”
I said I had.
“Is it good?” he said.
“It’s better than mine,” I said.
“Can you recommend one that’s shorter?” he said.
“Most of the Russians are pretty long,” I said. “But I know people who think highly of Chekhov’s short stories.”
“Short stories are probably a good idea,” he said.
I gave him a flyer for the reading. He was unlikely to buy an “I Will Keep You Alive,” not having a book case and all; but we wanted to fill the chairs, and, with his backpack, he seemed good for two..
In other news…
1.) Taking the advice of the café’s in-house design consultant for enhancing visibility, we sunk a few bucks into color photocopies of our flyer and replaced the black-and-white ones we’d posted previously.
2.) Word has reached us of a second forthcoming review, this one in the monthly newsletter of the Atlanta chapter of Mended Hearts. (“Terrific story,” the reviewer leaked to me.)
3. ) But a dyspeptic writer/friend said he stopped reading IWKYA because “…it got too happy.”
REMINDER: See/hear Bob & Adele Live. Books, Inc., 1491 Shattuck Berkeley, August 6, 7:00. PM.