The Error World

The Error World

Paperback

By (author) Simon Garfield

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  • Publisher: Faber and Faber
  • Format: Paperback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 198mm x 16mm | 208g
  • Publication date: 8 January 2009
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0571235271
  • ISBN 13: 9780571235278
  • Sales rank: 366,242

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 was born in 1960. He is the author of Expensive Habits: The Dark Side of the Industry, The End of Innocence: Britain in the Time of AIDS, which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize, The Wrestling, The Nation's Favourite: The True Adventures of Radio 1, Mauve, The Last Journey of William Huskisson, The Error World and the Mass Observation trilogy Our Hidden Lives, Private Battles and We Are At War. Mini: the True and Secret History of the Making of a Motor Car was published in 2009.

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)