Lost in my library
by Chuck Kleinhans
I’m a lover of books, or maybe better, someone who has a lot of books. I’m not like a collector who treasures books (though I do treasure some art books), but I’ve always had a close relation to books. Before I could read, I memorized some little kid’s book—I think it was about a bear—and told the story, word for word, while turning the pages at the right place. This convinced my paternal grandmother I was a budding genius who absorbed reading without any instruction. I remember my mom trying to explain it wasn’t so, but I think grandma liked the fantasy and wouldn’t give it up.
Spending most of my adult life as an intellectual, an academic and an editor, I’ve always done a lot of reading and handled a lot of books (and articles, periodicals, etc.). What I’d like to do hear is talk about them in a more informal way than a genuine full-bore review. A good review is a challenging task. And it should be pretty objective and fair. But I’ve often found.
Usually I do not write about books written by friends and colleagues, as distinct from professional acquaintances. Book and media reviewing protocols prohibit crossing the personal/professional boundary because close personal ties likely would influence how the reviewer evaluated the work’s quality or importance. (At least this is the standard in science, social science and humanities. The art world routinely disregards this boundary.) I’ve followed this idea as a writer and editor, but often I’m aware that in limiting myself, I kept readers from knowing about important and lesser known projects. So here, under the banner of full disclosure, I’ve decided to publish some things about works by friends and colleagues that I think are politically important today.