Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chanukah Day 4: The Book by Lavie Tidhar (original short story)

Posted by Simcha 3:59 PM, under | 13 comments

The Book
by Lavie Tidhar

There is a bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London and it’s never open. Its windows are covered in a thick film of dust and spiders grow webbed cities in its darkness. There are books inside that no-one’s ever read; books that human eyes had never seen, books where black ink spells secrets on black paper, books written in darkness that cannot be read in the light.

In the Hebrew Bible, of which all subsequent bibles are merely a translation, the world begins not with Aleph, the first letter, but with Bet, the second. “Bereshit”, it says – In the Beginning. The bookshop on Charing Cross Road has no name or, if it has, there is no sign outside anymore to say so. Through its windows one can see no books, yet they are inside. It has a basement and a boiler-room and a bath no human had ever used. The shop appears deserted, but it is watched. It is studied.

Once every century or so a Fool, a Knave or a Knight dares to venture inside. In 1610 a man by the name of Balthazar Bordeaux went inside. It was 06:45 on a grey cold morning. At regular intervals Bordeaux communicated with his colleagues outside by pushing notes under the door. He was inside the shop for over three hours. From him we have the map of the upper and lower sections. His discovery of the bath had subsequently earned it the designation The Bordeaux on our maps. The paper he used was as black as if night itself was a sheet of paper and was shaken so vigorously that moon and stars and all stray light fell from it into oblivion. It was as soft and as hard as water can be. His last message was received at 09:56. it said: “I found hi-“.

In the books of the bible God is fully present in the Torah: appearing in a column of smoke or fire, parting seas, conversing with Abraham and Moses. By Prophets he only appears in dreams; and in the third and final section, in Ktuvim – in Books – he had fallen silent. Students of the apocrypha recount an argument attributed to the Prophet Elijah, which says that the bible is not yet completed; that somewhere God resides, in hiding or imprisoned, and there he continues to write, underground, a samizdat story of the world. Some say the last letter would be Tav, which closes the alphabet. But some say it would be the penultimate letter, which is Shin. Secret wars had been fought over this. God, so far, had not commented; perhaps, wherever he is, even he doesn’t know.

I want to wish Lavie a huge congratulations in being included in Night Shade Books' fifth volume of T
he Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year for his story "the Night Train."

Lavie's newest book,
An Occupation of Angels, was released last month and you can win a copy of it here. Just leave your name and email address below to be entered.
This giveaway is open worldwide


Compliments for your blog and pictures included, I invite you to see the photo blog,


Each week released a new album

and blog of the memory my father CLICK

Greetings from Italy


I read this one twice; something so short provokes quite a bit of thought. I'll have to read it again in a bit - my impression will change, I'm sure.

This sounds wonderful. Please enter me!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

That was great stuff.


Like Stephanie I had to read this a few times and I'm still processing what i read. What I will say is that it caught my attention in a way that not many short pieces do.

Thank you for sharing.

Interesting bookshop.

Sounds as if it would make a good setting for a series of short stories.

Thanks for the giveaway and for opening it up to worldwide entries.

I would like to see what Lavie can do in a complete novel.

Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

A lovely story.


I had to read it twice too. First cos I always hurry, secondly cos when I finished I realized I had to go back and read it again .) The lesson for me, do not hurry.

blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

That was wonderful.

don't feel bad Blodeuedd, I also hurried and had to read again. especially the last paragraph.

takes just a few minutes to read, but I will be thinking about it for days.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Loved it.

(of course, as someone who haunts bookshops on Charing Cross road I have a special affinity for stories set there :) )

johnnycloudatlas (at) yahoo (dot) co (dot) uk

Yesterday I was thinking about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion-heard on Escape Pod

and thought to come see what Lavie was up to. That story so reminded me of kibbutz. Any chance of free books is awesome. Count me in!

ada3mhh at yahoo dot com.

chag sameach!

Great flash-fiction. Lavie is topping my TBR list.

eshchory AT gmail DOT com

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