Charles Elliott

Letters From America

The Way It Wasn’t: From the Files of James Laughlin

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The Way It Wasn’t is a very strange object. Grossly over-produced, printed on glossy stock so heavy it could be used to shingle a house, filled with gulfs of white space amid a disorienting collection of typefaces, snapshots, reproduced documents and book jackets, it seems to be a gesture towards new-style autobiography (or, as James Laughlin was wont to call it, ‘auto-bug-offery’). With all due respect to a man who published many of the most important books of his time, spending a good part of his considerable fortune in the process, The Way It Wasn’t might better be classed as the giblets of a memoir.

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