Icarus, Favorite Bookstores, & London or Austin?

There’s a problem, feathers, iron
Bargain buildings, weights and pulleys
Feathers hit the ground
Before the weight can leave the air–R.E.M. “Fall on Me”

"The Fall of Icarus," Marc Chagall

“The Fall of Icarus,” Marc Chagall

There is that Icarus feeling when one gets on a plane.

Will it stay up?

Do I care?

It’s so fast.  If it crashed, it would be fast.

I want to stay up in the air, but it is worth the risk to leave home.

Do you also love that feeling of leaving?

I praise my city where there is nothing to do–it’s probably the way we are meant to live–but it is also good to go somewhere and do something.

And so I flew to Washington, D.C., where I used to live, a dowdy, political city, but supportive of the arts.

Daedalus made wings to escape the tyrant Minos.  In Horace Gregory’s translation:

“The skies are open:  my direction’s clear.
Though he commands all else on earth below
His tyranny does not control the air.”

The wings are made of feathers, wax, and cord.

Icarus’ wings melted in the sun.

My hands are burned-lined-and-puckered, a different kind of burn, from years of bicycling in the sun.

It is not the bicycling time of year.

It is the flying time of year.

I took a long walk this afternoon to distract myself from the holidays.  The baristas at the coffeehouse were busy.  The coffee kept me warm on my walk, but I was sorry they had to work.

I am plotting my next vacation, my next flight.  Where next?  London or Austin, Texas?

I  would love to fly to London and walk Dickens’ streets.  Didn’t he walk 10 miles a day?  I also want to find myself in a ’30s or ’40s English novel, perhaps by Aldous Huxley, Norman Collins, or Elizabeth Bowen.  Do you think it’s too late?  I rather suspect so!  But I don’t mind modernity.  And there are bookstores, are there not?  (And, yes, I like museums, etc.)

Austin is a gorgeous university town and the capital of Texas. Beautiful city! Great restaurants and clubs.  I spent a weekend there once.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go there in the spring when there is still snow here in the Midwest?  There used to be bookstores; I’m not sure if there are anymore.

Please let me know your favorite cities, because I do like the urban life occasionally.

And your favorite bookstores, because the shopping season is here.

My  favorite bookstores in the Midwest (both used):  Jackson Street Booksellers in Omaha and Murphy-Brookfield Books in Iowa City.

You may not be coming to this area soon, but if you do…

We’ll have coffee.

And here is another stanza from the great R.E.M. song, “Fall on Me,” and the video.

There’s the progress
We have found a way to talk around the problem
Building towers
Foresight isn’t anything at all

5 thoughts on “Icarus, Favorite Bookstores, & London or Austin?

  1. I might be in Austin in March. Among the cities you should visit definitely stands Yosemite. It’s better than a city. Seattle is nice. Chicago too. If you ever hit the Bay Area, you could visit Los Gatos, Campbell, and Menlo Park and drive down HWY 1 from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz and Aptos. Plus I’d take you up on the coffee offer.


  2. London is lovely, although there is too much modernity creeping in. And there are so many fewer book shops than there used to be. I like to search out the back streets, the old parts, which still have some individuality and character.

    For smaller cities, you can’t beat Leicester (where my Middle and Youngest Children currently are) – it’s vibrant and multicultural, but not overwhelming!


  3. If I could go to London I would do a tour of places in Anita Brookner’s books. She’s so precise in her settings. But that wouldn’t interest my husband at all and I’m hopless with or without a map 🙂


  4. Kevin, I love the Bay Area, though I seem never to get there! (Only once.) And I could take the train to Seattle, a city I’ve always wanted to see. And, yes, Austin has that appeal of both good weather in the spring and a charming university town, or did when I was there. It’s the pretty hill country!

    Go west!

    Dilemma, dilemma.

    London: Go east!

    Karen, Nancy, and Luisa, I’m sure I would like it. A cheap hotel on the outskirts somewhere or (better yet in the city limits), then riding in on the underground every day, going to bookstores, museums, and various free other stuff I would have to find out about. And just walking around neighborhoods I’m not sure about the Anita Brookner tour, Luisa, but I’ll certainly join you for a day of that! No, husbands are utterly intractable on points like that.

    Nancy, I’ve heard good things about Amsterdam.

    More cities to add to my list!


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