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This article is taken from PN Review 220, Volume 41 Number 2, November - December 2014.

Library Hours Gabrielle Calvocoressi

I wanted
to stand in front of it.
I wanted to trace over
and over the weave of my own country.
(‘In Which the Ancient History I Learn Is Not My Own’)

The first time I met Eavan Boland, I was working at Library Hours Bookstore in Wallingford, CT. The store was down the road from the elite boarding school I attended. It was a school I was woefully underprepared for, coming, as I had, from a fairly terrible public school in a rural part of the state. Every day I lived with the knowledge I could fail out. I didn’t have the study skills the other students had. I didn’t have the languages and the poise. People tried to help me and people told me I’d be better off leaving. That was a lesson I learned there: some people will help you and some people simply don’t have the time. What I knew was that place was saving my life. I wasn’t being threatened and bullied as I had been in my other school. More importantly, I had this job in a bookstore that allowed me to read all day.

Weekdays or weekends it was always the same: I’d walk in through the back door and say hello to Pat. The store was almost always empty. It was just far enough from school that neither the students nor the teachers ever seemed to go there. Most sources of industry had left the town so books weren’t as much of a priority as figuring out how to put food ...

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