Intimate Wonder

Places of wonder abound. Or do they. This is something I wonder about. Does wonder have more to do with mood/temperament of observer or with design/purpose of place. By the way, I am leaving the question marks out on purpose. In order to convey the certainty of my lack of certainty. These are not rhetorical questions. More like rhetorical un-statements.

All this to say that I feel a lot of wonder in bookstores. Probably the most wonder I feel in life is generated by being around books. Books I can own, read, mark, dirty, reread, photograph, stack by bed. This is how I know that I am inevitably doomed to end up a white-haired serial book clubber.

All this to say that there is a very specific place of wonder I’ve been thinking about these past few days — the children’s section in La Tornamesa bookstore in Bogotá, Colombia. It is the only bookstore I have ever frequented where the only section I gravitate toward is the children’s section. Last time I visited I didn’t even peruse the new titles, or the staff picks, or even the hidden-like-female-sexual-organ corner of poetry.

Nope, straight to the kid’s section. Then straight to cash register. Then straight to cafe to tear open the books I “got for my kids.”

All this to say that I am still not over my most recent discovery at La Tornamesa: Clarice Lispector’s children’s books. I have to confess I had no idea Lispector had even written children’s books. And now, thanks to the precious folks at Tornamesa, I have one right here, next to me. It’s called “The Intimate Life of Laura.” Laura, of course, is a chicken.

Having arrived last night from my trip to Bogotá, I promptly attempted to read it to my six-year-old this morning at 6:49 am. We were able to get through most of it thanks to the fortuitous tardiness of carpool. Dad, son and myself were laughing out loud at Lispector’s attempt to explain the psychology of Laura (and chickens in general).

The greatest part about this story is that there were three more books by Lispector stacked under the one I got. Not three additional Laura books. No. Three different Lispector stories for children. I left them behind in my place of wonder, so I can wonder about them, and feel the feeling of wanting to return.