Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books
Edited by Leah Price
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
This book was all over the pages of literary periodicals before the holidays. The book is a great idea for a gift book for a bibliophile, and there are some lovely passages from the interviews with the writers whose bookshelves are profiled in this book. Sadly, though, this book was a disappointment. A good third of the photographs were out of focus. Not artfully out of focus. Just out of focus. Not acceptable for a coffee table book. The interviews were also largely identical. The same questions were asked of all of the writers, by email I’m guessing, and while there were one or two personalized questions, the interviews began to feel far too similar. It’s interesting to compare answers to the same questions, yes, but there also has to be individuality, some loving attention to detailed probing.
I’m glad I spent an hour or two with the book, but it’s not one I’d recommend you rush out to get your hands on.