Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Books: A Memoir

In Books: A Memoir Larry McMurtry shares his love of books and how it started. He grew up in a family with no books on a ranch in Texas. That's right - there were no books in his home.

One day his cousin, on his way to enlist (the country was engaged in World War II at the time), came to Mr. McMurtry's house and dropped off a box containing 19 boys' adventure books. Mr. McMurtry was 6 or 7 years old then and he read those 19 books over and over. That was the beginning of his love of books and reading.

Larry McMurtry is not just a writer (he's written close to 40 books), he's also a dealer in rare and antique books and has been one for about 50 years. In this memoir he seeks to convey the thrill of book selling and book collecting with his stories of second-hand bookstores, book scouts, and book sellers. He laments that many people will not care to read such a book as this, and refers to Christopher Morley's The Haunted Bookshop and Helene Hanff's books, specifically 84, Charing Cross Road, as examples of books that portray bibliophilia in a way that is entertaining and accessible for the common reader. He also mentions John Dunning's bookman series featuring Cliff Janeway and Marianne Mcdonald's antiquarian book series featuring Dido Hoare as successful popular mysteries involving book collectors and book sellers.

I've enjoyed both of the above series and many of Christopher Morley's books and all of Helene Hanff's books, and although I am not a big fan of Larry McMurtry's fiction, I did greatly enjoy this book. He did not mention them, but I think in many ways his memoir is similar to some of Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone's books about book collecting, and would also be enjoyed by anyone who likes books by Nicholas Basbanes.



Blogger Dana said...

Nice review.... I love uncovering a book with an inscription.... and wish I'd done more inscribing myself.

Now I use birthday gift-giving as an excuse to buy a book I would like to have.

10:39 AM  

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