One must have an ‘about’ section, a story to tell to make the notion credible. But you know what we do, don’t you? You know that you come here for sanctuary, for community, for a recommendation offered silently by a display or aloud by a person obsessed with the written word. Even before you arrive, you know that you can step into a bookshop and be anywhere and anytime and anyone that you care to.
The first time I read a novel by Siri Hustvedt, I remember grasping that I must become an artist, a sculptor, urgently. This with no ability to use my hands for more than turning pages.
With Raymond Chandler, it was apparent to me that I ought to be a private detective and I set out to drink the appropriate amount of bourbon and note the type of cigarettes smoked by new characters who crossed my path.
I read Alice Oswald and decided to leave the city for the river Dart, taking nothing with me, despite having announced my move to Berlin a week before, following a few days with Christopher Isherwood.
For a short while, Herman Melville had me convinced that I might do well at sea. For a longer while, I occupied the cold tower of a ruinous castle, thanks to Dodie Smith. And somewhere in between, Nan Shepherd led me to believe I might learn every rock and crevice of a mountain and see the way the light hits water in the early morning through her eyes.
I did not become a sculptor or a detective. I moved west though not, because of a poem, to live somewhere I had never been. I am yet to live in Berlin or at sea or in a castle – one forgets when reading how badly one feels the cold. But these places, these people, these ideas, they are all utterly real and reachable for me. And I do so love to share them.
This is where Heron Books has come from: a love of talking about stories and a grip on reality just loose enough to believe in the magic of a bookshop.