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The Error World

The Error World

Hardback

By (author) Simon Garfield

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  • Publisher: FABER & FABER
  • Format: Hardback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 142mm x 178mm x 28mm | 318g
  • Publication date: 3 April 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0571235263
  • ISBN 13: 9780571235261
  • Sales rank: 491,298

Product description

When he was very young, Simon Garfield lusted after rare stamps but could not afford them. When he was older, the passion reignited with almost ruinous results. "The Error World" is an examination of obsession and desire, and the search for fulfilment. But it is also a story of wooden legs, pornography in the Finchley Road, Pele's World Cup shirt, the man who guards stamps for the Queen, and a woman who is terrified of the Post Office Tower.

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Author information

Simon Garfield is a feature writer on the Observer and the author of nine works of non-fiction, including the prize-winning Mauve, The End of Innocence, The Wrestling (1996), The Nation's Favourite: The True Adventures of Radio 1 (1998), and Our Hidden Lives.

Review quote

PRAISE FOR "MAUVE""Garfield has surpassed himself with his new subject matter: "Mauve" elegantly relates the tale of Victorian chemist William Perkin who, in 1856, failed to make quinine from coal tar but discovered instead how to synthesize the colour purple. Fascinating stuff."--"Esquire""This engaging and airy history shows how the development of mauve, the first mass-produced artificial dye, ignited a 19th-century revolution . . . Garfield has inspired me to wear a bit of mauve this spring to honour this inventive man."--"The New York Times"

Editorial reviews

Observer feature writer Garfield (Private Battles, 2006, etc.) examines his passion for stamp collecting.The veteran British author begins in late 2006, when he was on "the brink of ruin." He was in debt; his marriage had collapsed; he was involved in an affair with a woman from his past. And philately was the proximate - though not, he reveals later, the ultimate - cause of all this. As Garfield slowly unspools the story of his rise and fall, he detours frequently to zoom in on areas of stamp collecting's increasingly unfamiliar map. (Today's young people don't seem interested in the hobby, he notes.) He sketches the history of the postage stamp, interviews a former U.K. Postmaster General, visits stamp dealers and authorities, attends auctions, glances at how various writers (e.g., Philip Roth, Louise Erdrich) have used philately in their fiction, notes that celebrities like John Lennon have been collectors and examines stamps-never-issued in the Royal Mail Archive. Garfield began collecting as a boy, he says, then gave it up as an adolescent and young man, but returned to it, with renewed vigor, in his 40s. He made substantial purchases (concealed from his wife) and became obsessed with "error stamps," those with printing or production mistakes that elevated their value, sometimes enormously. He eventually credits Freud for helping him understand that his collecting was a form of compensation for the untimely losses of his father to a heart attack, his mother to cancer and his brother to viral pneumonia. Garfield depicts his marital infidelity in the same, vaguely self-serving light - and, of course, the flaws on his beloved stamps are analogous to those in his character. He eventually sold his most valuable stamps and paid some debts.The author's enthusiasm does not prove contagious. (Kirkus Reviews)