Posted in diary | 8 Comments »
In 2004 I was staying with my girlfriend for about six weeks in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. We’d rented a semi-cozy little apartment not far from the town center. Just around the block there was a used book shop which — miracle of miracles! — carried a decent selection of English-language science fiction.
Not having much better to do with my time near the end of our stay, and enchanted by the low low prices, I picked up a copy of Robert Heinlein’s novel The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. I’d read it long before, as a teenager, but forgotten it. I’d bought and then re-sold a few novels at this shop already, sating my sci-fi habit.
The book accompanied us for a while after. Possibly my girlfriend read or re-read it also (she’s also a Heinlein fan). We ended up taking it with us to Florida where we holed up for a week between flights, caught up with my family and reunited with dear kitty Henry. And then the book came with us to Bratislava.
Shortly after arriving in Bratislava we discovered an English-language used book shop called Next Apache (the name is a bit of trans-linguistic play, “Next Apache” being pronounced very similarly to a common Slovak expression, “nech sa páči“, meaning “enjoy!” or “here you go!” or, literally, “may it please”). One of us sold Cat to the store for credit against other book purchases.
I just got back to Bratislava last Wednesday, after nearly three months staying in Granada, Spain. A friend put me in touch with a potential room for rent in a flat in the center of town, and after a bit of dithering and some rather fruitless searching on my own, I decided to take the place. Today I met with my friend and with Tony, an Italian guy who will be one of my new flatmates. While in the place, I had a glance at the books up on the shelf between the living room and kitchen. Hmmm, a few English titles! Tony tells me he’s a great sci-fi fan.
An Italian translation of Greg Egan’s Schild’s Ladder immediately caught my eye. Awesome far-out speculative stuff. A few shelves down and a bit to the left, and, ooh! Heinlein! A copy of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls! Now, wouldn’t it be funny, if…
And so I open the book and it’s got “NEXT APACHE” stamped twice inside the back cover. But inside the front cover: “Vrisa Bookshop, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala”.