Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (April 3, 2003)
Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #1,068,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #84 in Books > Travel > Europe > Great Britain > Wales #199 in Books > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Antiques & Collectibles > Books #213 in Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Books & Reading > Booksellers & Bookselling
Paul Collins has written something like the perfect book for bibliomaniacal Anglophiles. *Sixpence House* is the story of his migration--with wife and infant son--from San Francisco to Hay-on-Wye, a village in the Welsh countryside with some 1500 inhabitants--and, remarkably, 40 bookstores. Hay is a picturesque town, with cobblestone streets and thatch-roofed houses and its own castle, a half-ruined edifice occupied by Hay's self-proclaimed king, who happens to be, as are so many of Hay's inhabitants, a bookseller. Collins and his family rent an apartment in town (his mailing address becomes, simply, The Apartment: it's that small a village) and live out of their suitcases and stroller while house hunting and book buying. The author also works part-time for the king in his bookstore, a place crammed with more musty volumes than the royal's workers can ever organize.Collins' attempt to buy an old house in Hay--he toys with purchasing the eponymous Sixpence House, a lopsided former pub that threatens to be a money pit--merely provides the skeleton for the author's delightful, meandering narrative. It is at times hilarious, as when, for example, Collins describes his first book-reading, or rather, his pre-reading sojourn in the bathroom:"There's nowhere dry for me to put my papers down, so I have to tuck my papers under my chin while I pee, which works till--chiff--into the toilet, and I grab, and recoil, then grab again--and I have saved my manuscript, the thing I am still hoping to read from this evening, except for the first page, which is not just soaked, it is soaked with urine. I stand alone in the bathroom, horrified. I do not have another copy with me. But, what they do have here is--a hand dryer. And so there I stand, drying off my masterpiece over the ineffectual vent.
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