The bookshop is, and will always be, the soul of the trade. What happens there does not happen elsewhere. The multifariousness of human nature is more on show there than anywhere else, and I think it’s because of books, what they are, what they release in ourselves, and what they become when we make them magnets to our desires.
A memoir of a life in the antiquarian book trade, A Factotum in the Book Trade is a journey between the shelves—and then behind the counter, into the overstuffed basement, and up the spine-stacked attic stairs of your favourite neighbourhood bookshop. From his childhood in rural Ontario, where at the village jumble sale he bought poetry volumes for their pebbled-leather covers alone, to his all-but-accidental entrance into the trade in London and the career it turned into, poet and travel writer Marius Kociejowski recounts his life among the buyers, sellers, customers, and literary nobility—the characters, fictional and not—who populate these places we all love. Cataloging their passions and pleasures, oddities and obsessions, A Factotum in the Book Trade is a journey through their lives, and a story of the serendipities and collisions of fate, the mundane happenings and indelible encounters, the friendships, feuds, losses, and elations that characterize the business of books—and, inevitably, make up an unforgettable life.
Praise for Marius Kociejowski
“Kociejowski draws on all the aspects of his life in these engaging, idiosyncratic personal essays … [that] proffer the reader equal measures of autobiography, insight and quirky charm.” —Michael Dirda, Washington Post
“Here the charm is deep, the splendour unlaboured; the colours of history, reckoned afresh, saturate singular people, in whom passion is lucid again…here is one who collects his extraordinary resources, and strides.”—Christopher Middleton
“It is a testament to the power of this superb book that I felt not despondency, but … elation.”—Adam Thorpe, Times Literary Supplement
“Treasures are revealed … with a formidable erudition, and at their best they gleam with an enameled splendour.”—Ken Babstock, Globe and Mail
“Kociejowski writes beautifully … unusual, poetic, and thought-provoking.”—Library Journal