Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Book Review: "Editions and Impressions"

Nicholas Basbanes' most recent collection of essays, Editions and Impressions: Twenty Years on the Book Beat was published late last year by Fine Books Press, the good folks responsible for the ever-excellent Fine Books & Collections magazine. It consists of a series of essays on books from Boston to Balad (Iraq) and a number of capsule profiles of various bibliophiles Basbanes has encountered over the years (including the Carter Burden, Ann Fadiman, Arthur Jaffe, Robert Sabuda, and the recently-deceased Matthew Bruccoli).

These essays, Basbanes writes in the Introduction, were selected "because they are not replicated in any substantial way in my other published work" (although most of them have appeared in edited form in various newspapers and periodicals in the past). Basbanes' comments on biblio-things (bidding at a high-end book auction, book-breakers, &c.) are always worth reading, and the enthusiastic, contagious joy he feels for his subject just oozes from the pages of these essays.

Nicely-designed, with interesting contents, this slim volume is a must-read for Basbanes fans. A second volume, to be published this fall, will contain excerpts from some of Basbanes' many interviews with authors.