Thursday, June 10, 2010

With Reverent Hands: The Unfortunates

With Reverent Hands

I bring you with reverent hands / the books of my numberless dreams.
-WB Yeats, "A Poet To His Beloved"

WB Yeats, I'm sure, gave books to his beloved that he valued highly himself, and that he handled with reverence.  If you had to recommend a book you revered to someone, what would it be?
I'm asking you to highlight one book.  One book that you adore, that you prize, that changed your life, that you would save from a burning building, that you found serendipitously on a library shelf or at a used bookstore, looking lonely and ignored.  A book that thrills you but that, you have come to realize, no one else has really ever heard of, much less read.  With Reverent Hands is all about those books- the ones that deserve a wider audience than they are given and that you want everyone to go out and read, even if they are out of print.

This week's post is by Stu who posts at Winston's Dad's Blog.  I only met Stu recently, through Eva at A Striped Armchair, and we have started chatting and visiting each other's blogs in the past few months.  I really like Stu's heavily international focus in his reading.  I think translated literature can be very intimidating so following the blog of someone who reads so much of it makes me much more likely to tackle it!  I highly recommend Stu's blog, and I hope you enjoy his post below about a truly unique book!

If you would like to participate in this guest post feature here on BookLust, please email me and I will send you the template!

What book are you highlighting? 
The Unfortunates, by BS Johnson 

The Unfortunates
When did you first read it?
In the early 1990s when Picador UK reissued it 
What is it about?  Please give a brief summary.
It is called the book in a box.  It contains 27 chapters separately bound with only the first and last marked.  It can be read in any order, there is bits on hospitals, following a football match, memories.

What makes the book stand out to you?  Why do you love it?
It is totally unique and a true one-off from a underrated writer, an unusual idea for a book

Please finish this analogy:  If you liked _____________, you'll probably enjoy this book.
Ulyesses or Life:  A User's Manual

The Unfortunates
What sort of person would you recommend to read this book?
An adventurous reader, someone that enjoys modernist fiction or a lost 60s classic.

Do you have any quotes you would like to share?

I have have often thought that there has rarely passed a life of which is a judicious and faithful narrative would not be useful.


  1. I like the idea of a lost 60's classic. Of lost classics in general, really. Thanks for bringing this one to our attention, Stu!

  2. Anonymous6/10/2010

    many thanks for your kind words aarti ,all the best stu oh and hope some people try Johnson

  3. Anonymous6/10/2010

    I've heard of this book but have never had the pleasure of reading it. I like the idea of having separately bound chapters and being able to swap them around. How cool is that?

  4. This sounds like a very strange and interesting book, and I will admit to being ignorant of its existence! I am going to have to try to look for this one, as it sounds like something that would really intrigue and challenge me!! Thanks, Stu!!

  5. Can't say that the modernist is stuff I like, but heck, one should try everything once

  6. Anonymous6/13/2010

    This sounds very intriguing. I like the idea of having chapters bound separately and being able to read them in any order. I'm sure it will make for a wholly different reading experience each time you read it. I am not at all familiar with modernist books, but I have to admit that I really like the idea of this.


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