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The Discarded

“A dazzling array of metafictions, Colin Hamilton’s The Discarded focuses on the lonely work of a solitary librarian assigned to the discard room. This hidden basement space is piled high with books purged from the stacks above. From the heap of discards, the librarian salvages his own idiosyncratic collection: a detective novel in which a damsel-in-distress insists she’s been murdered; A Guide to Universal Grasping, the “Ulysses of technical manuals;” a biography of David Markson written in the fragmented style of his experimental novels; an anthology of anthro-reptilian eroticism; a children’s book memorializing winter for those raised in an overheated world; a book of essays, The Hell of Insects, by entomologists who’ve been spoken to by their subjects; and a history of book burning. With Borgesian panache, The Discarded interweaves stories about imaginary books with reflections on libraries, both real and dreamt. Hamilton’s nuanced collection asks a seemingly simple question: In an age of decreasing literacy, disposable content, and banned books, what do we preserve and what do we discard?”

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