3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A few chapters into One For the Books, I began to wonder if I was reading a parody of Joe Queenan. I've always enjoyed his opinionated and often sarcastic style, so it's possible that this is a sly sendup of book snobs. If it isn't deliberately self-mocking, it certainly deserves to be mocked by someone. So here is my parody of One For the Books:
"I grew up in a dreary, poverty-stricken city, the son of Irish-American alcoholic parents, but that story has already been written to death, and with better accents, so I'm stuck with writing about my superior intellect and impeccable taste in books.
"As a poor youth, no one expected me to read books, but I read constantly, and I showed those snobs at the bookstore and the library that I knew my Baudelaire from my Maupassant. In Paris, they would surely appreciate my exquisite book sense. But imagine my horror when I discovered snobs - in France! Oh la la! The fact that the worst of the snobs I met in France were Americans escaped my sense of irony.
"I do read more than anyone I know. The second time I read all seven volumes of Proust's The Remembrance of Things Past I was in Paris, of course. I read dozens of books at a time and I recollect everything I have ever read. I loathe book discussion groups and Kindles. Independent bookstores rub me the wrong way. Too many snobs. I despise having books thrust upon me by well-meaning, but inferior, readers. If you lend me a book, I will never return it to you.
"I have every book I have ever owned. I write my name in every single one. You can't do that with a Kindle. I have books that are so old they have age spots, they stink from mildew, and the print is so tiny it makes my eyes hurt. Kindles have no soul and no smell. Bah.
"Once, I met a man who knew who Georges Simenon was, if you can imagine. As a best selling author who wrote over two hundred popular novels that were translated into dozens of languages, Simenon is fairly obscure, so I knew I had met a soul mate. Of course, I only read Simenon in the original Walloon, while my new friend reads Simenon in translation, poor inferior sap. He probably reads them on a Kindle. Quelle horreur. "
on 8 November 2014
I like Joe Queenan's style and sense of ironic humour, and have read most of his books. This one I found particularly enjoyable because many of his views and opinions about the quality of certain books, bookshops and libraries coincide with mine. While I can't claim to be anything like as well-read as Queenan, I also believe in the vital importance of literature as life-enhancing - and I find bad literature just as entertaining as he does, even to the point of being reluctant to part with bad books I've pointlessly clung on to for years. The only issue of disagreement between us is that I also love my Kindle. Fondness of one doesn't negate fondness of the other. As the song almost says: When I'm not with the book I love, I love the Kindle I'm with. Keep publishing, Joe, you've got a solid fan here in London.