Thursday, July 11, 2013
Into the Looking-Glass Wood
San Diego, CA : Harcourt, 2000.
I was first introduced to Alberto Manguel's essays through The Library at Night, an homage to libraries private and public, and a rumination on reading including philosophy, history and literary criticism. Into the Looking-Glass Wood is similar in erudition and style but, much like the book from which he takes its name, its topics are all over the place. In this, you will see more of the man and perhaps a little less of the reader.
Libraries and books are my passion, so naturally I feel more drawn to a book where every essay is about that, and one theme builds on another in a natural progression. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy this collection: "St. Augustine's Computer," a rumination on the tension between books and technology, is worth the price of the book alone, and "Taking Chesterton at His Word" caused me to download a few of that author's books on my e-reader to rectify the fact that I've read nothing by G.K. Chesterton. It simply means that, as a different person with different interests from Manguel's, I was less than enthralled with some essays that had very little meaning or interest for me, personally. Another reader may appreciate more than I the essay on erotic literature or would have read Richard Outram to more ably connect with what Manguel had to say about him. So though I found it to be a mixed bag, I can fairly confidently recommend it to readers of books about books with the suggestion that there's something for everyone, and it's worthy of thought and discussion long after reading.