Publisher description for Collections of nothing / William Davies King.


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Nearly everyone collects something, even those who don’t think of themselves as collectors. William Davies King, on the other hand, has devoted decades to collecting nothing—and a lot of it. Captivated by the detritus of everyday life, King has spent a lifetime gathering a monumental mass of miscellany, from cereal boxes to boulders to broken folding chairs. Junk, you might call it—and so might King, at times. With Collections of Nothing, he takes a hard look at this habitual hoarding to see what truths it can reveal about the impulse to accumulate.
Part memoir, part reflection on the mania of acquisition, Collections of Nothing begins with the stamp collection that King was given as a boy. Philatelism’s long-standing rules governing the care and display of collections soon proved an oppressive burden in the midst of the family chaos generated by his sister’s growing mental illness; choosing to ignore the rules, King began to handle and display his collection according to his own desires—the first step in his search for an unexplored, individual meaning in collecting. In the following years, rather than rarity or pedigree, he found himself searching out the lowly and the lost, the cast-off and the undesired: objects that, merely by gathering and retaining them, he could imbue with meaning, even value.
As he relates the story of his burgeoning collections, King also offers a fascinating meditation on the human urge to collect. Whether it’s nondescript loops of wire and old food labels or more commonly prized objects like first editions or baseball cards, our collections define us at least as much as we define them. This wry, funny, even touching appreciation and dissection of the collector’s art as seen through the life of a most unusual specimen will appeal to anyone who has ever felt the unappeasable power of that acquisitive fever.



Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
King, W. D. -- (W. Davies)
Collectors and collecting -- United States -- Biography.
Collectors and collecting -- United States.
Collectors and collecting -- Psychological aspects.
Collectors and collecting -- Miscellanea.