Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Angell on the Botsford Library

In one of my favorite passages in his collection of essays, Let Me Finish, Roger Angell writes about The New Yorker editor Gardner Botsford. Angell fondly recalls Gardner’s Library “a unique selection of volumes never to be taken down and opened, never to be discussed, review, collated, or arranged?”

The library, Angell recalls, was comprised of books featuring “a sweep of unexpected subject matter and the acute seriousness of certain obscure authors—which, when combined, promised extremely low sales.”

Botsford’s collection includes The Law and Your Dog, Septic Tank Practices, Successful Fund Raising Sermons, The Handbook of Wrestling Drills and What Can I Do with My Juicer?

"'I don’t believe there’s as much of this kind of publishing anymore,' Botsford said to a visitor. 'The special special book, the book with an audience of three—I don’t know where it’s gone.'”

Botsford told Angell that two broad principles governed the selection of the books in his small collection. There were to be no joke titles and no work that didn’t bear it’s title on the spine. “'That’s because no one will ever open any of the books,' he (Botsford) said. 'They are not for reading. Some people don’t understand this.'”

The passage on the Botsford Library can be found on pages 250-252 of Angell’s fine book.

No comments:

Post a Comment