The Error World: An Affair with Stamps

Simon Garfield, Author . Houghton Mifflin $24 (247p) ISBN 978-0-15-101396-8

“I have built up a stamp collection I can barely afford,” Garfield confesses, “and it has brought me to the brink of ruin.” Yet despite a significant amount of autobiographical candor, his story doesn't quite deliver the emotional wallop promised in those opening lines. His youthful enthusiasm for stamp collecting, as well as the rediscovery of that passion in his mid-40s, when he has the income to buy the stamps he always dreamed about owning as a boy, are richly detailed. The few passages depicting the personal consequences of that pursuit, however, are too detached. Several digressions into the history of stamps and stamp collecting slow the narrative, which picks up energy only when Garfield returns to his most intimate interest—his focus on collecting only rare stamps that contain printing errors, for example, or tracking down the young girl who won a design competition he entered as a young boy decades ago. Garfield hits upon some interesting psychological questions about the nature of collecting all sorts of material objects, but it often feels like he is writing around the heart of his story. (Jan. 20)

Reviewed on: 12/01/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-547-24790-8
Paperback - 1 pages - 978-0-571-23527-8
Hardcover - 247 pages - 978-0-571-23526-1
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-547-58670-0
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