“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
When I first walked in the city lights bookstore in San Francisco I simply couldn’t contain my excitement. It felt like jumping into an ethereal cloud of poetic goodness that flooded my soul and left me feeling peaceful and content. I have to admit though that I get excited walking into any bookstore particularly the types that let you simply exist freely with no obligation but to enjoy what is there. Gloria Steinem once likened a bookstore to a town square. I get it. A town square with its colour, it’s vibrancy, it’s captivators and the captivated. It’s magical. It’s joyous. I had felt it at Shakespeare & co in Paris and I had felt it at housing works in New York City. Now here in the Blue Mountains I felt it again.
Th bookstore at the Blue Mist Café in Wentworth falls is no city lights, or Shakespeare and co or housing works – but It was nevertheless a town square. It’s not a place you can find a book on anything and walk till you get lost in some hidden passage or aisle. Somehow though it retained the same incarnation and left me feeling the same sense of joy. And this joy was only heightened as I started to walk up the stairs and noticed to my left up on the wall black and white images of my favourite beat poets – Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg. Whoever thought about converting the second level of this café to a bookstore/library must be a kindred spirit indeed.
On entering the main book area you notice the inviting lounge and on the wall a large black and white photo of a man, who could have easily been mistaken for someone’s grandfather during a family gathering but who was in fact no other than Hemingway himself. The space was well lit as the lounge area opened up to a sun room with tables where one could sit and eat their meal in solitude or with company.
Today though I was alone. I had ordered a Spanish omelet and freshly squeezed ginger juice and for $22 got more than my fair share. The Spanish omelet simply tasted amazing and was far too much for me to finish delightful or not.
For a weekday the cafe was teeming with locals and visitors alike. I was seated next to a table where two ladies in their 30’s with coloured hair and well positioned tattoos chose something sweet from the menu and chatted about their choice to live and work in the mountains. I had gathered they were artists when I heard one talk about a local market they had set a stall up at. One lady had congratulated the other for the sale of her home and her relocation to the mountains which also sounded like a move that had left her and her partner financially burden free. I bet the tart she was eating only tasted sweeter.
My attention then wondered off as I opened up the latest frankie magazine that I had picked up from the magazine rack and scanned through. You can tell a Café by the Magazines they had available for their patrons to read.
To be sure the bookstore café is not dead. Its alive and well and its going to stay that way for a very long time.