Sunday, August 26, 2012

Another Reason to Visit Brome Lake Books in Knowlton, Quebec, Canada

Dave and I are still savoring yesterday's trip "across the border" into the Eastern Townships of Canada, to attend crime fiction author Louise Penny's pre-release launch of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, eighth in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. One of the delights for Dave especially was meeting the owners and staff of Brome Lake Books -- welcoming, knowledgeable book lovers with whom Dave had spoken several times as we prepared for our journey north.

Brome Lake Books has an address on the main street in Knowlton, a delightful arts-focused town. The shop is tucked toward the back of a small strip of stores, and in Hobbit-home fashion, opens from a small entryway into more and more shelves of books, arranged for tempting browsing. (There's also a sale room in the lower floor.) Danny McAuley, Lucy Hoblyn, and others greeted us and I have drawn a complete blank on the name of the person who painstakingly wrapped our "Vive Gamache" café au lait mugs that I'd been so eager to purchase -- I was SO excited to be there -- but she made me feel great about my purchase.

Brome Lake Books is glad to ship books abroad, too. Notice this shelf full of books in French? This is a great asset for collectors stepping into the magical world of "foreign editions." Here at the Kingdom Books blog, we often compare American and British cover designs of mysteries. But actually there are many cover designs for those books that get into print in multiple languages. They're often a delight to gather on a shelf, as we have with a collection of Eliot Pattison's books here. In addition, even if you speak or read only a bit of another language, it's fascinating to compare the versions, to see how translation does or doesn't change the text. This is increasingly significant with work by Scandinavian crime fiction authors today, as American readers become accustomed to a dark and somber ambience reflecting ice-bound or darkened countrysides -- and wonder, in turn, whether "all those Scandianavian authors" actually write in that mode, or whether the shadows are being emphasized by the translators. It's also nice to give translators some credit for their labors!

So if you're really getting involved with Louise Penny's books, consider calling Brome Lake Books and asking the booksellers' advice on where to start with her French editions. You'll get thoughtful conversation, good suggestions, and -- when your copies arrive -- a new aspect to your bookshelves and your reflections on today's best mysteries.

Oh yes, and here's a comment I can't resist, for a 1994 Los Angeles Times article: "[Herb] Yellin, 59, also collects presidential documents and movie memorabilia, but it's his library that gets most of his attention. 'I've been acquiring foreign-language editions of Ray Bradbury's books. That's when you know you're over the edge, when you start collecting foreign editions.'"

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