I Am Looking For Books

liberation.jpgWhen I came to the literature section, I went to the information desk to ask where I could find particular books. But alas, a librarian gave a brief glance at me and resumed his reading, without asking me if I needed some help. “He definitely misunderstood me. He must have thought that I am one of common Japanese tourists who do not have any literary taste,” I thought, “I should teach him to understand that he is dealing with a literary man.” Thereupon, I called into question with a straight face, “Excuse me, sir? I am looking for books.”

He did not stop reading the book and did not even glance at me. And he said annoyingly, “What do you want?”

“Hm, you’re reading Pushkin’s collected stories. What a tragedy he died at such young age. I wonder, was worthwhile for him to challenge his wife’s lover to a duel?”

His curiosity was piqued, and he asked me with an astonished expression, “Have you ever read any of his works?”

I nodded, “He is one of my idols. I love The Stationmaster the most. To tell the truth, I cried like a baby when I read it the first time.”

“Do you like Russian literature by chance?”

“I feel at home with it,” I replied nonchalantly.

“I’m so sorry. I thought you were like the modern Japanese who are interested only in technology and comic books, but not art.”

“It’s okay with me. I can understand it easily. Anyway, I need your help to find books.”

“Of course, sir. You’re obviously a serious man with literature at your heart. What can I do for you, sir?”

“Where can I find the works of Knut Hamsun and Henry Miller?”

When I invoked these names, his attitude toward me changed magically to the point of respect. He wrote the numbers down on the piece of papers where I could find them and gave them to me like a bat out of hell. And he let out, “You are totally confounding me. I am sorry, but it’s difficult for me to believe that a Japanese bird reads these giants. I might admit you read Henry Miller, but Knut Hamsun!”

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