The continued adventures of book collecting
Bibliophiles got to read about a subject quite close to home themselves with the 1997 publication of Used and Rare. In it, married authors Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone chronicled their initial adventures and misadventures into the world of book collecting. Along the way, they encountered real-life characters that would make any fiction writer envious, and, through skillful narrative pacing, made reading about the hunt for musty secondhand tomes engrossing.
In Slightly Chipped—more of a companion volume than a sequel—the Goldstones actually surpass their first effort on the same subject. Now a bit more experienced, they improve on their story by visiting more of a variety of settings, from a library book sale to a seemingly staid rare book discussion group. The most memorable chapters chronicle an investigation into the almost cultish readers and collectors of mystery books (including a disastrous evening at the Edgar Awards) and their own quest to buy books at Sotheby's Duke and Duchess of Windsor auction.
The Goldstones also delve a bit deeper into the stories about the books and authors behind their purchases, including solid background information on Bram Stoker's Dracula and the various writings of the Bloomsbury group. The inclusion helps you appreciate their desire to own the books, and you can't help but feel involved in their successes and failures or want to read some of the books discussed. The weaknesses in this book are the same as in the first: a tendency toward axe-wielding and sniping at people they don't like; unsolicited reviews of specific bookstores, people, and businesses that may or may not be balanced and deserved; and a strange dwelling on the physical appearances of those the authors seem to consider unattractive.
Regardless, Slightly Chipped, like its predecessor, is a delightful, fresh journey. And even if you couldn't tell the difference between the Kelmscott Chaucer and a modern picture book, Slightly Chipped is a welcome addition to any collection.
Bob Ruggiero is a freelance journalist based in Houston, Texas.