Sunday, January 27, 2008


Searching for Bobby Fischer... In The Bookstore?

Via Galley Cat, an article in Smart Set on where Bobby Fischer spent his final years: in a downtown Reykjavik bookstore.

Bókin, or The Book, is essentially a 1950s version of New York’s Strand Bookstore. Besides the books stacked head-high, under card tables, and on plywood shelves, the first thing you notice about Bókin is its smell, decayed and airless. Walking inside the 35-year-old establishment is like entering a Parisian flea market without the noise: overwhelming, a paralysis of the senses. But it was here, between narrow aisles lined with thousands of fraying biographies and history books, sitting in an ordinary chair whose varnish had worn thin, where Bobby Fischer could be alone in his thoughts. It was here where he could contemplate his place in history by poring through books on outlaws and rebels from Russia, Britain, Libya, and the Soviet Union with whom he could relate. And it was here, beneath the quiet hum of the fluorescent lights above, where Bobby Fischer could, for at least a few hours a day, seem to live a normal life.

“Bobby said he liked this kind of bookshop because it reminded him of his younger New York years. The mess everywhere, the stacks of books, the smell,” says owner Bragi Kristjónsson. “He was often sitting here so long, reading from these shelves, that he fell asleep.”
If you know Icelandic, here's a Visir article from last week, complete with the above photo of Bragi in his shop.

Fischer seems to have made a circuit of local bookshops, as a one Reykjavik guide says of neighboring bookstore Penninn - Eymundsson: "Bobby Fischer likes to sit by one of the upstairs window seats and read. Could ask for anything more from a bookstore?"

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