30 June 2011

Painful Lives

I had to go to Waterstone's in the Arndale Centre the other day as a birthday present needed buying. While there, present in hand, I got thoroughly baffled at why Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time, Clive James's fascinating collection of biographical meditations, had been shelved alongside dictionaries and books on the history of English. It's basically a biographic compendium, or a collection of autobiographical thoughts, or a survey of the cultural history of the twentieth century. Take a look at what James has to say about Sophie Scholl, that being a fair sample of the hundred essays that comprise this wonder, and then ask yourself whether that's the kind of book that belongs with style guides and lexicons.

Mind, the science of shelving clearly eludes me. I mean, take a look at this, the 'Painful Lives' part of the Biography section. Make you you scroll right down to the bottom. 

 Or, at least, the Bottom's sister. Painful lives indeed. And the Queen Mum? Seriously?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I once found Delia Smith's spiritual reflections, 'A Feast for Lent' shelved in the cookery section. An easy mistake to make, perhaps, but an easy one to avoid, surely? Waterstones again.