Thursday, October 23, 2008



In the past, whenever I've expressed an interest in visiting Aberdeen, I've been told: "Och. Aberdeen. That's a cooooold place." This is generally followed by a shiver. But I had the chance to visit the city, however briefly, on my recent trip. The weather was extremely good, which put the town in a lovely light and made it difficult for me to really understand why anyone would be hesitant to see the place.

I made a few new friends on this visit, including the young lady in the photo here, who is a reader of books. I'm always looking for book friends because I generally feel that I don't have enough in my life, and you never know when someone is going to recommend something new and good to read that you have never heard of before.

I loved this view of these kids on top of the car park. They yelled down to me and asked why I had taken their photo. I explained that they looked "cool" at which point they asked me to come up and join them. I didn't go. Honestly, if they discovered that I was just another boring adult, I think they would have been very diappointed.

The visit to Aberdeen also included my one and only trip to a bookstore: Waterstones. I like to go to bookstores in the UK because I usually find something not available in the US. It's because of Waterstones that I've been able to read Iain Banks, AL Kennedy, Jonathan Coe and Sebastian Faulks (the latter had a huge campaign in 1998 in the Underground which made me feel guilty if I didn't pick up Charlotte Gray). Though I can find Kennedy and Coe in the US, it isn't always easy and I'm convinced that more of their work is available in the UK, which is too bad. In hindsight, I'm kicking myself for failing to pick up Rupert Thomson on this trip; I need to make a list for myself for when I return.

I did however buy a copy of Robert Ryan's novel "Empire of the Sand" about which I know absolutely nothing, except that it is set in a part of the world I'm always keen to learn more of, the opening paragraph didn't irritate me, and it came with one of those "3 for 2" stickers and I needed a third book since I'd already picked up two books with the stickers. A cursory look tells me that the book isn't available in the US (yet), or that the reviews and blogs I frequent haven't discussed it at all, so I might end up feeling special to have an early treasure. Time will tell. It looks to be a thriller, but of the intelligent kind; winter is coming and I feel like settling down with something exciting in the midst of all the serious "literary" reading I plan to do. More when I finally finish reading.

My time in Aberdeen was the only time in Scotland that I didn't feel like I was in a foreign country. I don't know why, but the place felt like America to me.
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