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Cat Air

Last night I strolled to my local indie bookshop, The Bookseller Crow on the Hill, for an author event.

The author was Ben Johncock, talking about his novel The Last Pilot in conversation with Andrew Smith, author of Moon Dust.

I enjoyed Moon Dust, which is a sort of The Right Stuff: Where Are They Now?, interviewing the surviving men who have experienced walking on the moon and investigating how that experience changed them, so I have high hopes for The Last Pilot. The novel follows a fictional pilot from the 1940s to the Moon missions, throwing in real life figures from the era. Pretty ambitious for a first novel, especially one written by a Brit who has only ever spent four days in the USA and much of that watching The Phantom Menace.

But people who'd already read it were making comparisons with James Salter, and the author signature is one of the best I've ever seen, coming with a fingerprint and two different rubber stamps, one of which proclaims the book to have come from the library at Pancho Barnes' Happy Bottom Riding Club. I look forward to reading.

Bookseller Crow is a lovely shop, with tempting stock and friendly staff - do wander in, if you're ever in Crystal Palace. Most of their evening events are free, and for those that aren't, you can usually drink enough to make up for the cost of the ticket.


It does sound like an excellent bookshop. I've been poking around its website, and it's much more interesting than most small businesses'. Reads a little bit too pleased with itself and self-consciously unconventional in places, but I can forgive that for its clear virtues. It's at times like this that I so badly miss Bewdley Books, which closed about five years ago now and is now a fishing tackle shop. Better than being empty, certainly, but of approximately 100% less interest to me!
Oh, that is a shame!

Crystal Palace is quite hipsterish, and the bookshop's website (and the blackboard outside with witty sayings) is a reflection of that.