Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Pound of Paper: Mini-Review

John Baxter's A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict is a deceptive little thing. I went in expecting a book about books and about someone with an all-consuming passion for books. Which this is...more or less. Actually more less than more. This is a far cry from 84, Charing Cross Road or The Yellow-Lighted Book both books that wonderfully represent the book lover and collector and their relationship to the printed page.

Baxter takes us on a meandering tour of his life--long, boring bit on his childhood which leads up to his discovery of science fiction which launched his love for books and his fledgling attempts at book collecting. We follow him through a bit more book collecting then we get side-tracked by movies and the theatre and collecting screenplays and whatnot. Lots of fixation on Graham Greene and Kingsley Amis and his ways and means of getting hold of autographed copies of their works. Yeah, we can tell he loves books, but it seems far more important for him to name drop all the famous people he met and got autographs from and to to tell us how much he paid (or how little, as the case may be) for spectacular first editions of tasty little literary tidbits. Which might impress me more if he didn't come across as so darn full of himself. His writing is good, but not congenial. The words flow nicely from the pen (or the keyboard...), but they don't compel the reader to keep reading. I started and stopped and started again so many times that I wondered if I were ever going to come to the end. It starts well, lags terribly in the middle 200-50 pages and ends well. I did enjoy the lists of collectible books and the responses from his literary friends to the question "What would you save if your house were on fire..." Overall--just barely decent with ★★ given for pretty prose with bursts of interesting nostalgic book-collecting instead of compelling memoir about a book lover (which is what I hoped for).


BooksPlease said...

I like your review, which has shown me that I needn't bother reading this book! What a shame - and well done for finishing it after so many stops and starts.

fredamans said...

Don't think it's for me, but great review!