Happened upon this little gem
of a book recently and was much delighted by it. Basically the book details the twenty year correspondence between American writer Helene Hanff and British bookseller Frank Doff. She writes Marks and Co. Booksellers
, querying about used books. He responds and the friendship that blooms between them is...for lack of a better word...awesome? Neat? Words fail me this morning as have not had full cup of coffee yet. Helene has fun poking at Frank's stuffy British reserve, her playful jabs at him resonate strongly with me (so much, at one point I wanted to say, dear sister!!!!
because we seem to have that similar sense of humor).
One example (I'm just taking out snippets of various letters here):
WELL! All I have to say to YOU, Frank Doel, is we live in depraved, destructed and degenerete times when a bookshop--a BOOKSHOP--starts tearing up beautiful old books to use as wrapping paper...You tore that book up in the middle of a major battle and I didn't know which war it was...I want the Q anthology...Why don't you wrap it in pages LCXII AND LCXIII SO I can at least find out who won the battle and which war it was?
...Please don't worry about us using old books such as Clarendon's Rebellion for wrapping. In this particular case they were just two odd volumes with the covers detached and nobody in their right senses would have given us a shilling for them...
WHAT KIND OF A PEPY'S DIARY DO YOU CALL THIS? this is not pepys' diary, this is some busybody editor's miserable collection of EXCERPTS from pepys' diary may he rot. where is jan. 12, 1668, where his wife chased him out of bed and round the bedroom with a red-hot poker?...I will make so with this thing till you find me a real Pepys. THEN i will rip up this erstaz book, page by page, AND WRAP THINGS IN IT.
PS-Fresh or powdered eggs for Xmas? I know the powdered lasts longer but "farm fresh eggs flown from Denmark" have got to taste better. you want to take a vote on it?
As much shit she gives poor old Frank, she really does care about the people who work at Marks and Co
sending them care packages periodically. Apparently it was wartime and food was rationed (one egg per person a month???), so meat and eggs were scarce.
Apparently there is a movie version
of 84, Charing Cross Road
, but I haven't seen it yet. I liked this book so much, I went ahead bought all other available books written by her, The Duchess of Bloombury Street
(when Helene finally visits England to see her Marks & Co friends, but sadly Frank had already passed away), Q's Legacy
, Letter From New York: BBC Woman's Hour Broadcasts
, and Underfoot in Show Business
The romantic in me wishes that Frank and Helene could've developed a romance and she crosses the Atlantic, and they find love, etc etc etc, but Frank is already married, and the friendship is strictly platonic.
Conclusion? This book is definitely a book I'd take with me to some desert isle if I was the last person on earth...etc etc etc...
In other news, am going to see Yellow Face
by David Henry Hwang (he wrote M. Butterfly
) when I visit the 'Rents next week. (Thanks Min Soo
Labels: Books and Writers I Adore