The shoulder of each shelf wore a label with its range—500 to 510, 510-520. It was another dozen such ranks before she crossed over into the 600s, whose scope looked rather like science still, as best as she could reckon from the spines of the books nearest the aisle. One more set of lights went on in front of her as she moved.

A moment later, she was among the 700s or languages, set hinge-like between the technical material behind her and letteratura, and there was something about this boundary that brought her to a stop. She came around to look back toward the entrance. Already the lights there had gone dark again. The door itself she could no longer make out. A small shiver went through her and for a moment it was as if she had just fallen into the place from the sky. Yes, it occurred to her now this was the point where she might let it go, this strange foray, and return to the reading room and the difficult work of The Italian Novel. 

800-810, 810-820, 820-830. More lights came on and just above the books on the next set of shelves, she saw Massimo’s fine white shirt as he shifted himself from one foot to the other. It took her breath away.

The Italian Novel


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