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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Dumping Naipaul And The Rest

Writing in The Boston Globe, Sam Allis confesses that he's ruthlessly carried out an action that one has been unable to perform with any degree of efficiency: clearing out bookshelves:

"You name them, I dumped them: Don DeLillo, V.S. Naipaul, Peter Carey, Walker Percy, Joyce Carol Oates, Cormac McCarthy, Robert Graves, William Boyd, among many -- they all bit the dust. The next day I pored over the carnage and booted a couple of dozen more, including works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Updike, Ian McEwan, Paul Auster, and Annie Proulx."

He goes on to make an incive observation:

"Books are also a form of interior decorating for people like me who lack imagination. They warm a room like nothing else, but the ugly truth is they also play to your ego. You rather like it when people come to your place and exclaim what a reader you must be. You plumb love it when they ask for an obscure title and you have it. This conceit comes dear and is hard to cede."

So, which ones haven't been given the boot? "I've kept almost all of my history and as much fiction as possible. I've generally stayed with the names that endure and titles I have a decent chance of rereading. And some I just want near me on a cold night. I've also changed my mind on a few. Denis Johnson isn't going anywhere after all. What matters now is less that I own a book than I've read it and, with luck, remember it."


  • The only time I've been able to do this with any efficiency is when I cleaned out the books I used to read as a kid; Anything bought post age 13 has stayed with me, and I confess, I wouldnt be able to bring myself to throw away any of those...

    By Blogger apu, at 11:20 AM  

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