Thursday, December 10, 2009

2-in-1 : The Book Shopper & Tattoo Machine

In this edition of 2-in-1 I will be writing about two memoirs. But the genre is pretty much all these two books have in common.

1. The Book Shopper. A Life in Review by Murray Browne *

I acquired this book while chatting with Mr. Paul Dry whom I met at Book Expo America 2009. I am mentioning this fact first because Mr. Dry is a publisher and his company, Paul Dry Books, Inc put out The Book Shopper and also because he was probably one of the nicest, most courteous people I met there. I felt Mr. Dry was genuinely interested in what I had to say and we really had a nice, intelligent chat. On that premise I accepted Murray Browne's book with a promise of reading it and further sharing my thoughts about it on my blog.

The Book Shopper is pretty much a short, to the point memoir of one person who loves books (not just reading them) and even though he is hesitant to call himself a true bibliophile, Mr. Browne's life pretty much revolves around books. The book's title is self-explanatory because it is mostly reflective of what we'll find inside: the author's experiences and knowledge concerning shopping for books in all kinds of places. Mr. Browne mentions bits and pieces of his 'other' private life but mainly he wants us, readers, to maybe learn something from his adventures in book shopping and to share our mutual love for books.

I honestly enjoyed myself reading The Book Shopper. It is a quick and easy read but filled with passion for books. And because I have this passion, I also like and feel connected to anyone who wants to write about it and does it exponentially better than I would. Even though I didn't necessarily agree with Mr. Browne's book choices (yes, there is a list of books he recommends), I was pleasantly surprised at the accuracy of some of his observations about bookstores, about people who love books and about people who work in used bookstores. It was a lot of fun to read
this witty recounting of one person's journey through the world of book shopping and if you are looking for something light but intelligent to read, this might be the book.

2. Tattoo Machine. Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink by Jeff Johnson **

This is a memoir about...surprise, surprise...tattoos. Jeff Johnson is a tattoo artist (or a tattooer) who decided to put his experiences in tattoo world on paper. I wanted to read the book because I have a tattoo and even though it's the only one I ever will have (that's right, getting tattoos is not addictive and a person can live with just one), I am fascinated by them. Jeff Johnson tells a story of what tattoo artists really think of us, peons wanting to have one and how his life revolved around tattoo shops, pranks, drugs, sex and all the cliches one might expect from someone who does tattoos.

The book was okay. That's it. I did smirk here and there but I was mostly left dissatisfied and felt at times outright offended by Mr. Johnson. His attitude of 'I'm better than you are because I am a tattoo artist' really grated on my nerves. As you probably can tell from the last sentence in the previous paragraph, I was being intentionally snarky. Truth be told, if you want to read about the world of tattooing from the insider, you may want to read this one but I would recommend perusing the library instead of a bookstore. The content is from time to time quite interesting, some incidents from Mr. Johnson's life funny but I mostly had a feeling that the author felt lost himself while writing the book, because it felt disjointed at times, there were chapters or fragments within a chapter for which I couldn't quite I understand the reason. They mostly felt like 'fillers' just to meet the word requirements. Anyway, it's not a horrible book, it is readable but because of the tone of superiority, I took it personally and feel mostly negative about it.

* I received this book from the publisher for review.

** I won this book through GoodReads giveaway program.