When I was walking down a quiet road in Rome about a year ago, searching for a present for Miss Jiwaku, I stumbled upon a little English bookstore, which according to the bookmark I got there was called “The Almost Corner Bookshop,” at 45 Via del Moro, Trastevere. I remember the shop a little, and it put me in mind of a little English bookshop I visited in Thailand, somewhere near Khao San Road, before I learned to avoid that district. Both of those shops were unusual in that they seemed to have a really literary clientele, well, assuming the books were chosen to suit their customers, anyway. The used bookstores in some places stock a lot of paperback thrillers and crime books; the little English bookshops in Korea stock bestsellers and Alvin Toffler. But bookstores like The Almost Corner Bookshop seem to service a much higher stratum than that.
Anyway, out front was a small stand containing a number of books, many of them also quite literary or philosophical. I grabbed a few books, but not many. One of them was Ma Jian’s Stick Out Your Tongue, a book of short stories concerning fictional (I assume) accounts of his journeys in Tibet.