Another Country Bookstore

I started writing a post yesterday about my wanderings through the flea market on Sunday, and was planning on talking about the burden of having too much stuff,

What a lot of things I don’t need! While others acquire expensive luxuries from the market, I get myself greater pleasures than theirs from my own soul without expense.” ~ Socrates

but then I realized time was running away and I hadn’t even started the Herculean task of tidying, scouring, bombing and disinfecting my place for H., who was flying in from London, and is now staying with me for the next eight days.

It’s 6:41 a.m.

She’s sleeping in my bed right now. I am in the kitchen and have just drunk my first Sicilian espresso and feel like I’m being rushed to write this so it’s either going come out like shit or have to be aborted. The good thing is, H. usually sleeps 3 or 4 hours longer than me – she’ll quite often sleep 10 or 11 hour a night – so I have time, but I still feel like someone’s got a knife at my back. Maybe it’s because I just quit smoking. I’d only been doing it for a couple weeks, and am not craving a cigarette at all right now, but I was smoking like a diesel engine toward the end, and maybe I’m unnerved in ways I don’t even know now.

So, I will keep this post quick and simple.

Friday night I went to the Friday Night Dinner at Another Country Bookstore. Dinner was served in the basement there, and after dinner we went upstairs into this small cozy room full of books, and there were about eight chairs arranged in a semi-circle, and we sat down and started talking and drinking and some of us were smoking. The conversation was good. There was an Aussie going on about this hammer drill he’d just bought and how efficient it was compared to screwing the old-fashioned way. And there was a German women talking about the beautiful, variegated light in New York City, and the wonderful food there, and the polite help in America, and tasers, and overly-aggressive men and their need of being tasered, and this and that. Also there was a Chinese woman, a guy from California with half-a-mohawk, and a few others including my friend Bernd, a giant bear of a man who kept nodding off which I found really disappointing, although not unusual for him. Bernd’s never been one to stand on ceremony. If Bernd needs to express his part-German, part Huguenot (he claims) opinion by falling asleep while you’re telling him a story, he’ll do it. He doesn’t care.

Luckily, it wasn’t me he was falling asleep to. I was talking most of the time to the guy next to me who’d just moved from New York to Berlin. I eventually told him about my novel Fortuna Berlin, and he bought the Kindle version on Amazon. Then yesterday, as I was trying to write about Socrates and the Burden of Stuff and feeling like I should start tidying, scouring, bombing and disinfecting my place, all the while reading Bryan Ray’s most recent blog and thinking about some emails I need to get to, I got this notification on Twitter:

Hey! Not sure if you recognized me from the twitter bio. We met at Another Country on Friday (the Indian guy). I just finished your book yesterday. I was glad I read it on a trip to Prague I took over the weekend. John was such good company for the solo-traveller :). He’s such a keen (or “mustard-keen” to unnecessarily use a phrase I learnt yesterday) observer too. it was great to see the world through his eyes for a bit. Especially parts of Kreuzberg I’ve stumbled across over the last 2 months. Some of those conversations he has with The Elephant regulars were my favourite bits. You must have edited those down ruthlessly. They’re so tight. No ponderousness. No rambling. Always with a point that’s not too directly stated. Always funny. Loved it. Going to go read some Goethe after that. Anyway, just wanted to say hi and thanks for the book. Hope we can talk again in person soon.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through Donald Trump – and there is only one thing, BUH-leeeve me – it’s that sometimes you need to toot your own proverbial horn. So there it is. Buy a copy! Link to $1.99 Kindle version here:


4 thoughts on “Another Country Bookstore

  1. I can’t get enough of this intimate journaling of daily details – it’s a rarity to see someone write in this fashion who has depth of mind and the ability to articulate experiences. (Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places but normally it seems that, if we want to hear about innermost thoughts, the life of the soul, etc., we hungry readers are stuck wading through faddish sentiment from people whose forte is not the written word.) Where I am, there exists no nightlife, or whatever you would call that bookstore dinner, so I derive a vital, emotional sustenance by living vicariously thru your reportage. And it’s the bonus of bonuses that the account is poetic. Like a Midas touch that sublimates the humdrum. But near the start of the entry, you wonder if the quality of the composition might wane because of clocktime’s strict demands: I assure you, you turned any obstacles to your advantage. Your sensibility, which is your strength, comes through clearly whether you compose rapidly or relaxedly. And my two cents about self-promotion is this: if you as the author enjoy it, we as readers enjoy it right along with you: so it’s good that you do it full-heartedly; for author and reader are one, while the text is being perused.

    • Thank you, B. Great readers make better writers. Knowing you’re reading this inspires me to put in that much more effort into each post, hence the pressure I feel when I’m rushed. As for living vicariously through my experiences in Berlin, going to your blog is often for me like taking a little trip to Minnesota…. if you’re used to being there, you don’t always see the little glories, but others do.

  2. Yes, Yes! I definitely agree with Bryan (another fantastic writer and magic-maker of amazing stories if I do say so myself). You write beautifully Michael. With true heart and an expansive spirit. As for self-promoting, it’s the hardest thing for me to do as well. But I say, Plug Away! I Love Fortuna AND your collection of poetry, ‘Hallucinogenic Dragonfly Intermezzo.’….A truly beautiful painting all conjured up with wonderful words, no doubt.

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