This book is fun, and useful to anyone looking for suggestions in the category of modern fiction and (to a lesser extent) non-fiction. Brown and I have several things in common. We’re both frustrated book reviewers. We both have blogs. His is at www.thebookshopper.org Neither of us is listed in Wikipedia. Or if Murray Brown IS there, he’s lost among a crowd of other people with the same name.
The memoir aspects of this book are as interesting as his opinions about books. One early influence was his grandmother, who loved books, patronized her local library and eventually asked her grandson to pass along his copies of the New York Times Book Review.
Did you ever hear of “competitive reading”? In eighth grade, Brown (unable to win distinction as an athlete) decided to read the most books of any pupil in his class. At the end of the school year, he received a trophy. Would he have been happier with a free meal at Pizza Hut, the bribe offered to my sons in elementary school?
One way or another, some of us get hooked on books.
I don’t normally select books according to their publishers – indeed, I could rarely tell you who published a book I am reading. I met Paul Dry (of Philadelphia) a decade ago, shortly after he founded Paul Dry Books (PDB). PDB is a very small publishing firm that puts out whatever books strike Paul Dry’s fancy, at the rate of ten or a dozen per year.
Some of Dry’s selections are interesting, relatively obscure books that have gone “out of print”, a status that may be diminishing as the reach of Amazon.com and other mega-suppliers extends. Others are translations. The author list is eclectic in the extreme. The most published author is the very prolific Eva Brann, whose books are so scholarly that I have not actually finished even one of them.
I’ve fared much better with Paul Dry’s fiction selections, like His Monkey Wife and The Summer House – a Trilogy. I also enjoyed Nat Hentoff’s memoir, Boston Boy.
In a world of mega-corporations, bookstore chains, electronic publishing and giant publishing “houses”, it’s refreshing to come across a company as independent and quirky as Paul Dry Books. I’m putting several of his books onto my Christmas list and struggling with my conscience over the possibility of downloading some of his authors onto my Kindle (from Amazon).