Read two books this past week. The one was really great but probably won't be of much interest to most people. Herbert Landau's The Small Public Library Survival Guide is just that. All sort of tips on how to make a small library profitable. Landau has a lot of really great ideas and I highly recommend it for anyone who works in a small library or thinks they might one day.
The other book I read was OK. Fair Warning was another art related book recommended by Access PA. It sputtered early but finished somewhat strongly. I had three issues with it, all which might just be related to me. First, I really don't like female main characters in books written by guys. It seems every time I come across this situation in a book, the woman is sex-crazed. In a book like Jay McInerney's Story of My Life, where the main character indulges in just about everything, in part because she's a spoiled 20-year old, it makes sense. When the main character is a 40-something year old auctioneer working for a rival of Sotheby's, I find it harder to swallow.
This leads to issue two. When it comes to women, I lean towards Victorian behavior. Women dropping F-bombs bugs the heck out of me. It isn't ladylike. If you want to do so in a moment of passion with me, OK. But you don't need to be doing it in conversation. I guess I expect a character who is at the height of her profession, in a field that is all about culture, to not be profaning and thinking about sex with her clients.
Issue three. The auctioneer is auctioned off and rather than be won by one of a pair of suitors, she outbids both with an imaginary book bid. Seriously? Has anyone ever come across an auction of people? You see them in movies and TV for eligible bachelors and crap but isn't that what slavery was all about? Well, now that I think about it, you do have charity auctions for dinner with a movie star or a day with an athlete or such, so maybe it wasn't as far-fetched as it came across. But given that the owner of the auction house opted to have such an auction because a new client requested it....again, seriously?
The book in a nutshell, though, is this successful auctioneer has a mid-life crisis. There's really not a whole lot more to it than that. The author writes pretty well, my gender issues aside, and he did win a Pulitzer for his short stories in 1993. There are some redeeming qualities in this story. The auction background was nice but that's two "art-related" books Access PA recommended that really have little to do with art.