#7 – Jed Birmingham

“It does not matter if you have five books or five thousand, one’s own book collection is inherently the most important and most interesting. These are the books that mean the most to you personally otherwise you would not have taken the trouble of collecting them. Book collecting is egotistical and narcissistic. Book collectors are also envious and competitive. … That said, with the publication of Soft Need #23, Martin (and Udo Breger) looks to have created one of the great Burroughs-related collectibles of the past decade. I also believe he supports museum and gallery exhibitions with his collection. I was going to say that Martin does this discreetly, but I am not sure that is correct. He does it in Europe, which may be why his activities are not more well known in the States. So, I am not merely egotistical and narcissistic; I am also nationalist and xenophobic. Geez. Envy, narcissism, and xenophobia all might play a part in why Jim Pennington is not on my list. If I put Pennington on it, I would have to remove myself. Or I could just expand my list to make Pennington the Eighth Wonder of the Burroughs Collecting World, but like many collectors I am obsessed with numbers, like limited editions and print runs. It must be a list of the Magnificent Seven and in the current climate you must shamelessly self-promote in order to be magnificent. But for Mike Stevens, Jeff Ball, and me, Pennington is a major Burroughs collector, who generates a degree of that dreaded performance anxiety. With Stevens, Pennington owns the single most important and interesting book from Burroughs’ personal library: Edmund White’s biography of Jean Genet. The book is the most heavily annotated book in that library and arguably the most important book to Burroughs. I know Stevens covets it. The question of whether Stevens would trade his entire Burroughs collection for the single book that captures the essence of his collection is interesting barroom conversation. There is some talk that Pennington is planning on doing something with the book. Let’s hope so. …”
Reality Studio

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