Quel dommage


Of all the bad economic news coming out of Europe these days, perhaps none is worse (to my mind) than the announcement that the Village Voice bookstore in Paris will be closing at the end of July after 30 years in business. This popular, well-stocked establishment on rue Princesse in the 6th arrondissement has been the best place to buy English-language books in the city -- maybe in all of Europe. It's had as good a selection of current titles as any American bookstore (often you could buy books in paperback that were just being released in the U.S. in hardcover) as well as an extensive supply of perennials. No visit was complete without a chat with the store's wry, opinionated English manager, Michael Neal, while the longtime owner Odile Hellier would be busily checking inventory and keeping the shelves stocked. Over the years the store has hosted readings by hundreds of authors and has simply been a warm, welcoming place for visitors and residents alike. Its passing is a shock.