Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries

Ander Monson. Graywolf, $22 (176p) ISBN 978-1-55597-706-1
In his highly quirky, sometimes frustrating collection of short essays, Monson reflects on the communal experience of reading books in libraries and on the nature of libraries themselves. He recalls the pleasures of card catalogues and wonders which books were stored in a now-empty library. He makes the point that the voices that speak to us from books are not always the ones the author intended; sometimes readers leave comments in a book’s margins, or pieces of paper between its pages. One of the more intriguing and effective essays is his open letter to those who have defaced books with their own bigoted or outraged commentary. Most of his pieces began life as ephemera themselves, with Monson leaving them in library books. There are moments of insight and delight, and the idea of exploring literally marginal writings is a bright one, but Monson’s idiosyncratic presentation and prose style can be exasperating, walking a fine line between self-reflection and self-indulgence. The essays are offered alphabetically, and the author’s advice (given in the second essay, “AI”) is to dive right in and read them in whatever order one wishes. In this respect, his book is gracious and respectful toward its intended readers, even if it may prove inaccessible to some of them. Illus. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/08/2014
Release date: 02/03/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 160 pages - 978-1-55597-338-4
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