Books for Kindling

A review of Andrew Bryant’s “Last Stand at Catesby’s Books” in OnSpec #94, vol 25 no 3
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover Photo from OnSpec Fall 2013 courtesy of
Cover Photo from OnSpec Fall 2013 courtesy of

For those of us who love books, love the touch, smell, and experience of them, there is something that eBooks can never replicate. The experience of going into a bookstore is transcendent, a venture into a place where tales, myths, wonders, and magic are embedded in paper. When we are told things like “books are going extinct” and “who needs books when I can download a whole library”, we cringe, worrying that booksellers will take these comments seriously and close their stores.

That is one of the things that makes Andrew Bryant’s “Last Stand at Catesby’s Books” so appealing. Bryant creates a band of outlaw booksellers trying to defend the last of the bookstores from a society of e-zealots determined to wipe out the last vestiges of ink on paper. His future is one where people have become so invested in the notion of the eBook that they view books themselves as a crime, an attack on trees and view the eBook reader as the way to achieve the future.
Bryant plays with the notion of the Kindle – both Amazon’s proprietary eBook reader and kindling, something to be set fire to and has this future e-hooked readership launch campaigns to burn all of the books. This is a last stand narrative, a last stand to save the book by a group of paperback frontiersmen against the quick encroachment of a technology that doesn’t want to coexist with them.
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Derek Newman-Stille

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