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Collections of Nothing

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Collections of Nothing Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Nearly everyone collects something, even those who don't think of themselves as collectors. William Davies King, on the other hand, has devoted decades to collecting nothing — and a lot of it. Captivated by the detritus of everyday life, King has spent a lifetime gathering a monumental mass of miscellany, from cereal boxes to boulders to broken folding chairs. Junk, you might call it — and so might King, at times. With Collections of Nothing, he takes a hard look at this habitual hoarding to see what truths it can reveal about the impulse to accumulate.

Part memoir, part reflection on the mania of acquisition, Collections of Nothing begins with the stamp collection that King was given as a boy. Philatelism's long-standing rules governing the care and display of collections soon proved an oppressive burden in the midst of the family chaos generated by his sister's growing mental illness; choosing to ignore the rules, King began to handle and display his collection according to his own desires — the first step in his search for an unexplored, individual meaning in collecting. In the following years, rather than rarity or pedigree, he found himself searching out the lowly and the lost, the cast-off and the undesired: objects that, merely by gathering and retaining them, he could imbue with meaning, even value.

As he relates the story of his burgeoning collections, King also offers a fascinating meditation on the human urge to collect. Whether it's nondescript loops of wire and old food labels or more commonly prized objects like first editions or baseball cards, our collections define us at least as much as we define them. This wry, funny, even touching appreciation and dissection of the collector's art as seen through the life of a most unusual specimen will appeal to anyone who has ever felt the unappeasable power of that acquisitive fever.

Review:

"Collections of Nothing is a wonderful work of creative nonfiction, a memoir combined with a brilliant dissection of the psychological and consumerist motivations and contexts for collecting (and collecting and collecting) everyday objects. Compellingly self-aware and beautifully written, it marries a well-told analysis of personal, eccentric behavior and an intricate inteweave of larger theories about the drive to accumulate and possess. I thoroughly enjoyed it." Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After

Review:

"Collections of Nothing is a terrific book. Wonderful and touching, it is informed by a deep sense of emptiness at the heart of materialism that echoes behind the text. It is not an academic book or an argument, but rather a strange hybrid, oscillating between memoir and meditation on collecting. Collectors will understand and empathize with William Davies King, who speaks to and of them." Jas Elsner, author of Roman Eyes

Review:

"What makes this book, bred of a midlife crisis, extraordinary is the way King weaves his autobiography into the account of his collection, deftly demonstrating that the two stories are essentially one....His hard-won self-awareness gives his disclosures an intensity that will likely resonate with all readers, even those whose collections of nothing contain nothing at all." New Yorker

Review:

"Through a discussion of the objects he has collected, King portrays what it is to be human, to be confused, to be lonely, to make mistakes, and to try to fix them. At the core of his collecting is the thrill of finding something (or someone) to care about; how ones impulse to label or contain it (or them) is a way of imposing order on the chaos of existence." Erika Marie Bsumek, Times Higher Education

Review:

"Part memoir and part disquisition on the psychological impulses behind the urge to accumulate, Collections of Nothing is a wonderfully frank and engaging look at one man's detritus-fueled pathology....King emerges by book's end a flawed but truly lovable eccentric — an 'antimonk, carefully preserving and sustaining a vital darkness, heavy with various glues, through a forbidding period of enlightenment.' May this darkness reign." Henry Alford, New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

Nearly everyone collects something, even those who dont think of themselves as collectors. William Davies King, on the other hand, has devoted decades to collecting nothing—and a lot of it. With Collections of Nothing, he takes a hard look at this habitual hoarding to see what truths it can reveal about the impulse to accumulate.

 

Part memoir, part reflection on the mania of acquisition, Collections of Nothing begins with the stamp collection that King was given as a boy. In the following years, rather than rarity or pedigree, he found himself searching out the lowly and the lost, the cast-off and the undesired: objects that, merely by gathering and retaining them, he could imbue with meaning, even value. As he relates the story of his burgeoning collections, King also offers a fascinating meditation on the human urge to collect. This wry, funny, even touching appreciation and dissection of the collectors art as seen through the life of a most unusual specimen will appeal to anyone who has ever felt the unappeasable power of that acquisitive fever.

 

"What makes this book, bred of a midlife crisis, extraordinary is the way King weaves his autobiography into the account of his collection, deftly demonstrating that the two stories are essentially one. . . . His hard-won self-awareness gives his disclosures an intensity that will likely resonate with all readers, even those whose collections of nothing contain nothing at all."—New Yorker

 

"King's extraordinary book is a memoir served up on the backs of all things he collects. . . . His story starts out sounding odd and singular—who is this guy?—but by the end, you recognize yourself in a lot of what he does."—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

 

About the Author

William Davies King has explored numerous odd corners of theater history in books and articles, including Henry Irving's "Waterloo", which won the Joe A. Calloway Prize. He is professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at University of California, Santa Barbara.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Canchita, January 5, 2009 (view all comments by Canchita)
There is nothing I didn't like about this book -- the author's reflections on his (extra)ordinary collections, the good humor, the perspective it's given him (and me) on life and death and everything in between. Read nothing before reading Collections of Nothing. It's really something.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226437002
Author:
King, William Davies
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Author:
King, W. D.
Subject:
General Literary Criticism & Collections
Subject:
General
Subject:
Collectors and collecting
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Collecting
Subject:
Collectors and collecting -- United States.
Subject:
Art - General
Subject:
Architecture-Architects
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20080731
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
11 halftones
Pages:
176
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Architects
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Antiques » General
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Crafts » Antiques General

Collections of Nothing New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$20.50 Backorder
Product details 176 pages University Of Chicago Press - English 9780226437002 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Collections of Nothing is a wonderful work of creative nonfiction, a memoir combined with a brilliant dissection of the psychological and consumerist motivations and contexts for collecting (and collecting and collecting) everyday objects. Compellingly self-aware and beautifully written, it marries a well-told analysis of personal, eccentric behavior and an intricate inteweave of larger theories about the drive to accumulate and possess. I thoroughly enjoyed it."
"Review" by , "Collections of Nothing is a terrific book. Wonderful and touching, it is informed by a deep sense of emptiness at the heart of materialism that echoes behind the text. It is not an academic book or an argument, but rather a strange hybrid, oscillating between memoir and meditation on collecting. Collectors will understand and empathize with William Davies King, who speaks to and of them."
"Review" by , "What makes this book, bred of a midlife crisis, extraordinary is the way King weaves his autobiography into the account of his collection, deftly demonstrating that the two stories are essentially one....His hard-won self-awareness gives his disclosures an intensity that will likely resonate with all readers, even those whose collections of nothing contain nothing at all."
"Review" by , "Through a discussion of the objects he has collected, King portrays what it is to be human, to be confused, to be lonely, to make mistakes, and to try to fix them. At the core of his collecting is the thrill of finding something (or someone) to care about; how ones impulse to label or contain it (or them) is a way of imposing order on the chaos of existence."
"Review" by , "Part memoir and part disquisition on the psychological impulses behind the urge to accumulate, Collections of Nothing is a wonderfully frank and engaging look at one man's detritus-fueled pathology....King emerges by book's end a flawed but truly lovable eccentric — an 'antimonk, carefully preserving and sustaining a vital darkness, heavy with various glues, through a forbidding period of enlightenment.' May this darkness reign."
"Synopsis" by ,

Nearly everyone collects something, even those who dont think of themselves as collectors. William Davies King, on the other hand, has devoted decades to collecting nothing—and a lot of it. With Collections of Nothing, he takes a hard look at this habitual hoarding to see what truths it can reveal about the impulse to accumulate.

 

Part memoir, part reflection on the mania of acquisition, Collections of Nothing begins with the stamp collection that King was given as a boy. In the following years, rather than rarity or pedigree, he found himself searching out the lowly and the lost, the cast-off and the undesired: objects that, merely by gathering and retaining them, he could imbue with meaning, even value. As he relates the story of his burgeoning collections, King also offers a fascinating meditation on the human urge to collect. This wry, funny, even touching appreciation and dissection of the collectors art as seen through the life of a most unusual specimen will appeal to anyone who has ever felt the unappeasable power of that acquisitive fever.

 

"What makes this book, bred of a midlife crisis, extraordinary is the way King weaves his autobiography into the account of his collection, deftly demonstrating that the two stories are essentially one. . . . His hard-won self-awareness gives his disclosures an intensity that will likely resonate with all readers, even those whose collections of nothing contain nothing at all."—New Yorker

 

"King's extraordinary book is a memoir served up on the backs of all things he collects. . . . His story starts out sounding odd and singular—who is this guy?—but by the end, you recognize yourself in a lot of what he does."—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

 

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