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On Ardor and Providence

The only city holier than Los Angeles is Providence. They have angels, we have God. But sometimes even Providence leaves us adrift. We find ourselves looking for communion, for candles in the dark.

Here is one church for the godless (and bookish): Ada Books.

No one sits in the window seat at Ada–its customers are too shy, maybe–but that means you can picture yourself there, the day being drained of dailiness, holding in your hand a book whose every eighth line compels you to look out the window and see all manner of everyday objects as beautiful. And this adoration of the world is Ada’s namesake, sort of: Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, Ada, or Ardor.

Its proprietor says it is a quotidian misery for him that Ada Books and Nabokov have nothing in common.

Maybe. But Ada is close to Adama man. And Ada Books is simply Brent Legault.

His might be a hard, adamantine existence. He has, of course, sacrificed all of his time for the last few years–and all of his money. He says: I’m sustaining Ada Books by just unlocking the front door every day, like sustaining life by simply opening my eyes each morning.

Also adamantine as in diamond-like: he loves Ada Books. He has the hope that Ada will sustain him someday.

In Turkish languages, Ada is island. And Ada is an island. What would it take to make a book district in Providence? A field of Adas as far as the eye can see?

And Ada is an ornament. If you love books, Ada’s is an achingly beautiful one room. Though the proprietor’s ideal Ada would have triple or quadruple the square footage; all of the books he wants to carry but cannot yet afford to; more events, signings, readings; more neighboring establishments; a sign stating it closes not at 6ish but at midnight; more than one man; though the ideal Ada would have a fireplace“a burning, arid heat that would bring us back to ardor.

Oh Providence, none of us can afford to live off Hope anymore. But off Ada or ardor, yes. So let us go and bring news from the world beyond Ada’s windows, leaving it poorer in books but richer in dollars, confirming in the proprietor what he imagines is true: that a good book is not only an abstract idea (the words on the pages) but a physical thing (the pages themselves, the spine, the cover) and that both of these things are important.

Because then there is Ardis, the arrow of time, and I am adamant that it point away from Ada–that the one room is not an end point, but a beginning.


[Some text taken directly from an interview with Brent Legault, owner of Ada Books. See also this article about Ada on Bookslut.]