When the hustle and bustle of modern life, the responsibilities of marriage and parenting, and the weight of middle-age get Tim Bowling down, he heads for a bookshelf in search of the solace books and reading can provide. But can the cure become the poison? One day, alone in the Modern Literature stacks of a university library, Bowling opens a tattered copy of Wallace Stevens's poetry collection Ideas of Order and, on the front flyleaf, finds the elegant ownership signature of Weldon Kees-an obscure American poet, painter, photographer, filmmaker and musician who vanished mysteriously in 1955, an apparent suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge. So begins Bowling's strange eight-month quest into American literature of the 1940s and '50s and the world of book collecting, a journey branching into a wealth of subjects ranging from the relationship between fathers and daughters, suicide, masculinity, the Internet, the history of printing, bibliomania and the strange effects of midlife and obsession on an otherwise rational mind. Through it all, Bowling faces two central questions: the one that Weldon Kees put to his friend, Pauline Kael, on the day before he vanished-"What keeps you going?"-and, perhaps even more important, is it ever acceptable to steal a book for your own collection?
Used availability for Tim Bowling's In the Suicide's Library
December 2004 : Canada Paperback