Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Between the Woods and the Water and Much More in the Catacombs of Powell's

The Catacombs of Powell's are filled with books.  New and used.  Chamber after chamber, up the stairs, down and around.  Red room, blue room, purple room. They take up a whole city block in Northwest Portland.  Powell's is functional.   Concrete floor, basic bookshelves of books and books and books.

As I wandered from room to room I thought of this as the last bastion of books as Kindles and iPads and Nooks become gain a foothold.  It's to Powell's people will come when all the other bookstores have long since closed.  Surfing for books online isn't the same as losing oneself in this cavernous bookstore.  Pulling books off the shelf, reading a few pages or more.  Here are some I paged through Sunday.

Randomly seeing titles or covers that call out to you.  What's that about?  And being able to pull it off the shelf, flip through the pages, put it back and do the same with the one next to it.  

 Books, that last for decades, centuries even versus data magically digitized. 

The one you can't read is The Fall of the House of Forbes

The back cover said, "Between the Woods and the Water" begins where its predecessor, A Time of Gifts,  leaves off - in 1934, with the nineteen-year-old Patrick Leigh Fermor standing on a bridge crossing the Danube between Hungary and Slovakia.  A trip downriver to Budapest follows, along with passage on horseback across the Great Hungarian Plain, and a crossing of the Romanian border into Transylvania.   .  .
Patrick Leigh Fermor is a writer of inexhaustible charm, learning, and verbal resource who possesses a breathtaking ability to sketch a landscape, limn a portrait, and bring the past to life.  Between the Woods and the Water, part of an extraordinary work in progress that has already been acclaimed as a classic of English literature, is a triumph of his art.  For this tale of youthful adventure is at the same time an exploration of the dream and reality of Europe, a book of wanderings that wends its way in and out of history and natural history, art and literature, with the tireless curiosity - and winning fecklessness - of its young protagonist, even as it opens haunting vistas into time and space."

Maybe Powell's will be able to figure out how to keep it live and online at the same time.


  1. I love books. I can smell the catacombs. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Any trip to Portland means that I MUST reserve at least half a day for Powell's, more if I can, and also a visit to Powell's Technical Books, their nerd nirvana next door to Henry Weinhard's Brewery.

    FYI, Powell's is now the largest bookstore in the US. It's always the first place I turn to if I can't find a book locally.


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