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CLMP Publishers Literature & Fiction - General New Titles

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The Discarded

ISBN: 9798987019931
Binding: Paperback
Author: Colin Hamilton
Pages: 272
Trim: 5 x 7.5 inches
Published: 03/12/2024

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. Many have been damaged, defaced, or made irrelevant by time. Others simply sat untouched for years before being thrown out to make room for glossy new arrivals.

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?


Colin Hamilton has helped create a library, a center for dance, affordable housing projects for artists, and a park. He is the author of a poetry chapbook and a novel, The Thirteenth Month. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he lives in St. Paul.


"In Hamilton's metafictional work, an unnamed librarian reflects on books pulled from the library's shelves and relegated to obscurity—and, by extension, the purposes of libraries in general. Hamilton's clear devotion to 'the morgue' of discarded books is oddly inspiring; there's something mesmerizing about the collective encyclopedia of knowledge they comprise as a whole, even if many of the parts seem less than alluring. He makes a powerful case for the library as 'both a source of continual rebirth and civic pride'—a place that a genuine community will revere and patronize. An enchanting discussion of the many books that inevitably vanish." - Kirkus Reviews