Wednesday, December 15, 2010

that said, I have a different opinion ....

about Jack Matthews.

I don't know if it is formed by the fact that the book he sought and value are not ones that I do or would, or that his tone is one that feels aloft, but having read a number of books by Jack Matthews on the subject of book collecting and searchings I no longer am terribly interested in the man or his opinions.

I am sure that it's due to reading more than one of his books however that has not been the case with my reading of Michael Dirda or Nicholas Basbanes. SO - it's mostly Matthews and his own writing, or writing style, or his subject matter. He's an Ohioan. His focus is as much about "frontier history" as about Modern Firsts. My focus is on different subject matters and particularly about chapbooks. Modern Chapbooks, if you will. Toothpaste Press, Perishable Press Limited, and the scores of other small presses and publishers who flourished and then disappeared. What remains is the work, and it's primarily a record of the last 60 years or so. The mimeographic revolution period. From the late 1940s through the present.

His focus is much older and more established. Old leather bound history of the Ohio river, letters from the 1870s. That ilk which is important to some but not to me. I respect what he has done but I don't feel that he respects what collectors today do. We don't use catalogues - we have the Internet to research. We might not comb estate sales or sit in the auction chair but that doesn't mean our collecting techniques are inferior. Perhaps there is a generation gap between the Jack Matthews of the world and the stevenallenmays of the world. Perhaps that is the issue in a nutshell.

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