As part of one of my courses, I’ve got to start keeping a blog under my own name chatting about writing and creative non-fiction (CNF to the cool kids) in particular. Since I’m not a big fan of redundancy, and I read a whole bunch of CNF anyways, I figure that I might as well do that here.
So what is CNF?
There’s a whole bunch of definitions for the beast but the most simple is that it’s true stuff told in a creative or narrative way. Think of a feature article in a magazine or a popular history book. CNF lets you learn about the world without being bored to death. And that’s something I can get into.
Why do we care?
An age ago I did a post talking about how to write what you know. There, I made a point of mentioning that what you know isn’t a finite thing and that every bit of knowledge you find is something that you can incorporate into your writing.
So for my part I’ll try to find interesting bits and pieces of CNF to talk about. If there’s anything you’re powerfully interested in and you want me to do a bit of research/find a juicy bit of CNF about the subject just drop me a line.
So welcome to a new segment/post-theme/thingy I like to call (as of this moment) What I’m Reading.
Seriously, the coolest job I’ve ever heard of. Wayne Pernu is a professional book scout. He spends his time browsing through second-hand book shops and through sales, finding valuable old books and loading his car with them.
The article opens with an amazing image of Pernu with a car full of books, so full that sometimes he has to stack them on his lap. And not just any books, old books. Can you imagine the smell of old paper and knowledge permeating your car? Much better than the smell of takeaway that lingers despite it being almost a month since you had it in your car for a mere five minutes with all the windows wound down.
It then goes on to describe Pernu’s trade, how his skill is largely intuition-based and how often small things like an intact dust jacket can be worth thousands.
The article does have a bittersweet tinge to it, however, because book scouts are a dying breed. With the advent of powerful computers that give us access to unimaginably large databases of books and information, the call for treasure hunters is not as much as it used to be. Nowadays, we can simply scan a book to find if it is valuable rather than studying it, finding its unique points and relying heavily on the intuitive light bulb that assures us that this one is a special one.
As an avid book hoarder (I hesitate to say collector simply because you’re likely to find disposable romance novels sandwiched next to books written in old English in my collection and I think people who are serious collectors are supposed to have some sort of taste) I identify with the joy of diving into a table of second-hand books. I love it when you run your hands over a book feeling that special thrill that only finding a treasure can give you. It saddens me that Pernu is part of a dying breed. But, honestly? I envy him because he clearly has the best job ever.
So should we view this as a sad piece talking about a man who clearly does something he loves in a world where he is becoming irrelevant? Should we view it as something charming, a treasure hunter going about his daily business? Or should we simply take it as a thing and move on with our lives?
I’m not sure, but I do know that the image of the man with his car filled to the brim with books will stay with me for a good while.