Monday, July 19, 2010

Sylvia Beach and Me

In honor of the publication of Keri Walsh’s edition of Sylvia Beach’s letters, I wanted to do something special here at Fernham: all week, we’re celebrating Sylvia Beach. Please drop by for a new post—or two--on Beach every day. And then head to your local independent bookstore and buy a copy of The Letters of Sylvia Beach.

I wanted to be a writer since I could hold a pencil. I started taking French lessons—an hour a week—at age seven. Though I never practiced my French outside that hour of singing “Ainsi font, font, font,” I was avid for it.

That combination meant that it wasn’t long before Paris in the 20s found me. Before I’d finished high school, I’d read A Moveable Feast and Noel Riley Fitch’s Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation. Paris in the 20s still has its allure and, if I spend most of my intellectual time imagining Bloomsbury and London in the 20s, Paris has lost none of its glow in the intervening decades.

Fitch wrote a lovely, generous foreword to Keri Walsh’s new book. It moves me to think that she, too, still finds so much that’s so special in Sylvia Beach, this American woman who opened a bookstore.

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