Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Harbord, Caversham & Freud: Not a Law Firm

Harbord Street is one of Hogtown's more interesting thoroughfares, intersecting at Spadina Avenue to the east and giving onto the architecturally much-abused U of T campus. One example of that: the Graduate School residence, an iron-clad affair that reminds me far too strongly of the prison ships or "hulks" the British used when their terrestrial jails ran out of space. And of course there's that large terminal and gimmicky "O" in the Toronto sign that sticks out from the residence and which could be a cannon in a gun port. (What is it about Hogtown and gimmicky architecture anyway?)

But back to Harbord. The stretch where I bike all the time is dotted with restaurants that come and go - the cheaper, greasier sort tend to endure, I've noticed - a pub or two, an independent coffee shop, the well-known Harbord Bakery, a women's sex shop called Good For Her, medical offices, a couple of pizza joints, and so on. Cavershambooksellers - that's how they spell it - is also on Harbord and for the last week or so they've had a sale. From a table outside I've bought Recollecting Freud, a personal account of the Viennese genius by one of his students, Isidor Sadger; a book of poetry by psychiatrist and poet Ron Charach; The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus (yes, I know I should have read it in university); and Freud's Wizard, a biography of Ernest Jones, Freud's Welsh disciple and an evangelist for psychoanalysis, a disgruntled sometime U of T academic, and the man who engineered Freud and his family's departure from Nazi-run Austria. Not one of the books was more than five bucks and for that I'm grateful and feel a little momentum has swung my way because of it. I've bought other books at Caversham and nearly fainted dead away at their prices.   

I think I should be more resolute about these things. Caversham sells books on mental health and mental health only, so of course its prices will seem stratospheric, at least to someone with shallow pockets. But whether you are affluent or not (I suspect that most of its customers are at least affluent-ish) Caversham is a great place to browse and buy. It won't sell you schlock like 1001 Ways to Repair Your Relationship, but there's probably more astonishing complexity, more challenging intelligence on its single floor of shelves than anywhere else of comparable size in the city. Now if I can only find a book there that tells me why I frequently confuse Caversham with Miss Haversham, the character from Great Expectations. It's just one letter, after all. I must be making a Freudian slip.      

No comments: