On Reading in Bars, an interview with P.T. Smith

Québec Reads

P.T. Smith is a reader and writing living in Vermont. He is the coordinator for the Best Translated Book Award and has written for Full Stop, Three Percent, and Asymptote, among others.

Hi Patrick,

So I’m wondering if I could interview you about reading in bars…

Peter

***

I could say I feel “seen,” but I really just feel understood. I’d be happy to talk with you about what is generally my Thursday night lately.

***

Ha! I swear it was a coincidence I wrote to you on a Thursday. :) So, here’s the thing. My kids have reached an age where I can safely put them to bed and think about doing something with my evening. Walking to a local pub with a good book sounds like a great way to put in an evening. But how should I go about it? How long have you been doing it? Won’t I just fall asleep by 9 o’clock?

Peter

***

Pursue this pleasure! How to go about it? Put books in bag, go to a bar you’re comfortable at, take out a book, sit down, order, read? It seems straightforward. Some bars are more conducive to it than others, and you’ll figure out what works for you.

I’ve been reading at bars for eight years? It’s a habit that has gone through many permutations, but has generally been around.

Drink slowly, check the % on those beers, hydrate, maybe pack a second book for when you’re not reading at 100% capacity, and you can really make a night of it.

***

Ipa? Something local ? As long as it’s cold and wet?

***

In Burlington, Vermont? Almost certainly something local. IPAs will always be lovely, but give me new. They also tend to want to smash your head in, which isn’t always great for reading. Sours and gose are fun with summer coming and are usually lower on the alcohol scale.

I’m answering this over The Dishwasher and a ten dollar bottle of wine.

Patrick

***

Ah, The Dishwasher seems a very apt choice. I was just about to ask what was sitting beside your IPA. Any other books from Québec you’ve given the bar treatment to? Fiction from Québec seems well suited to bar reading, if you ask me. It doesn’t tend to take itself too seriously…

***

The Dishwasher was a rare time that I specifically thought “This is a good book to read in a bar.” Usually the categories are “Sure why not? and “Too difficult for booze and noise.” Blais’ Thunder and Lightning is one of those. I definitely read some of In the End They Told Them All to Get Lost in a bar. I think my next read is Simard’s The Country Will Bring Us No Peace. Children of the Black Sabbath is something I’ve been rereading all over the place. Not taking itself too seriously probably is a good component to bar reading, but I also don’t think, say, Bernhard takes himself too seriously… now that I think of it, I’ve been wanting to reread him…maybe in a bar.

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