Robert Gutfriend-Walmsley of the Village Bookshop, Didsbury - A life in books

PUBLISHED: 08:33 09 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:48 20 February 2013

Robert Gutfriend-Walmsley of the Village Bookshop, Didsbury

Robert Gutfriend-Walmsley of the Village Bookshop, Didsbury

Robert Gutfriend-Walmsley is the owner of the Village Bookshop on Barlow Moor Road in Didsbury.

Robert Gutfriend-Walmsley is the owner of the Village Bookshop on Barlow Moor Road in Didsbury.

One customer paid a visit and discovered: 'He comes from behind the bookshelves and sings Frank Sinatra songs' which gives you the impression that this is no ordinary store


What are you reading at the moment?

Actually, I am reading Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, I am trying to broaden my horizons as I am mainly interested in political theory. I don't read a lot of novels.

My favourite writers are Dostoyevsky and Arthur Koestler. There's a new biography out about Koestler, called The Indispensable Intellectual, which I have also started reading and it seems to be more sympathetic towards him than previous biographies, although it does allege he assaulted Michael Foot's wife.

He was born in Budapest and lived in Paris, Palestine, and London. He
was a man of the world who never found anywhere to settle and ended up committing suicide. If there was one book that should survive from the 20th century it is his Darkness at Noon, according to Kingsley Amis.


What book are you looking forward to starting?

Books are not always to be read. Some times they are to be drooled over. Of course, I like reading books but I also like the chase, the finding and putting away.

What books first got you interested in reading?

Probably Enid Blyton and Biggles. I've had a Biggles on the shelves here for five years and nobody's noticed.

Do you have a favourite?

I tend to re-read poetry. I'd say Elizabeth Barrett Browning because she is so romantic. And Wordsworth. I also like John Masefield. His poem the Passing Strange is very evocative.

What is the Vintage Bookshop's best-seller?

I think the author who gets asked for more than others is George Orwell.
Hemmingway, Steinbeck and Lawrence also sell well and those Swedish
authors, Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell are very popular now.


Which book do you least like?

It's hard to say. I tried reading the Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann but it was so boring I gave up after a 100 pages. When I read, I read for fun. I enjoy collecting books and the shop is an intended consequence of that hobby.

Sometimes I am more interested in meeting the people who read the books. I get people in here who worry about the translation of one word in a work of Aristotle's Metaphysics. It is never dull.

The Village Bookstore
47 Barlow Moor Road
Didsbury
Tel: 0161 438 0211

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