Andrew Taylor

Loathsome Collection

The Island of Lost Maps


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 224pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Simple, uncomplicated loathing, like fine wine and expensive cigars, is one of the unexpected pleasures of middle age. It is often purely visceral — an instinctive and unreasoning dislike of a gesture, a turn of phrase, or a point of view — but it is rare to feel such confidence in your dislike as you do with this book.

Surprisingly, it is not Gilbert Bland, the sly thief at the centre of the tale, who so inspires repulsion — he slashes, slices and butchers his way through the antique books of scores of libraries across America without ever becoming more than a shadow lurking behind the pages. In fact, the rebel in the reader is likely to think, if the libraries couldn’t look after their books better, they deserved to lose them.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,
    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,