Building a better Irish bookshop
Sir, – The ambition to build a better bookshop is a worthy aspiration. So I welcome the exhortation from Manchán Mangan to us all, that we should build a landmark bookshop that would match our national literary pretensions (Arts Ideas, February 20th).
However, I expect his urgings were greeted with some irritation by the hardworking booksellers of Ireland, who are doing their best to provide attractive and inspiring spaces for hibernian bibliophiles.
One place in particular springs to mind. The charming Book Centre in Waterford is a cavern of printed treasures. A modest exterior hides what looks like a converted cinema with walls of shiny new books, a grand staircase and a plethora of reading nooks and comfy chairs. A truly splendid place in which to waste your time.
When I last visited there was no group visible with the characteristically rumpled attire and unsatisfied expression of a literary coterie. I would urge Mr Mangan to go down there at once and generate a conspiracy to produce the Great Waterford Novel over a cappuccino and toast.
I look forward to hearing of the inevitable split in the movement, so that I may read the subsequent savage recriminations that will no doubt flood across the pages of the better sort of periodical.
Wouldn’t it be a grand relief from the dreary disputes of rich men and politicians to have a real juicy literary scandal?
God be with the days when St Colmcille would sail an ocean and fight a war over a book. It seems to me that what’s needed now is not a better class of shelf to put our books upon, so much as the class of people who would care enough about what’s inside the books, to behave really badly. – Yours, etc,