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Banvard's Folly


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About the Author

Paul Collins writes for McSweeneys Quarterly, and his work has also appeared in Lingua Franca and eCompany Now. While writing Banvard's Folly he lived in San Francisco, where he taught Early American literature at Dominican University. He and his family moved briefly to Wales--a journey about which he is writing a book--and now live in Oregon.


"No writer better articulates our interest in the confluence of hope, eccentricity, and the timelessness of the bold and strange than Paul Collins. [This book is] sublimely odd, frequently funny, and better yet, thrillingly factual." --Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius"Though the most profound question is 'What is the meaning of life?' the most human question 'Don't they know how special I am?' Paul Collins knows. Thanks to these fascinating tales, his forgotten attention-seekers must be rolling over in their graves, if only to finally bask in the limelight." --Sarah Vowell, author of Take the Cannoli"Collins's swift, humorous prose makes for satisfying schadenfreude." --Time Out New York"[A] lively treatise on eccentricity, flawed genius, and star-crossed obsession." --The Washington Times"An unqualified success." --The Seattle Times"A remarkably lucid and entertaining peek into the admittedly strange lives of the characters [Collins] has unearthed . . . A witty meditation on the vagaries of fame and the human drive for validation." --Tucson Weekly"With crisp prose and engaging storytelling, Collins contemplates the whims of fortune and the foolhardiness of humanity." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"Hearteningly strange . . . Stretching the bounds of nonfiction's propensity for weirdness, Collins exhumes little-known figures [and] recounts their perversely inspiring battles against the more logical ways of the world." --The Onion"The thirteen lives and times to which Collins devotes his considerable scholarship and manifest narrative gifts in Banvard's Folly are the flash-in-the-pan, briefly notable, and long-ignored ones-of-a-kind, who remind us of the nobility and futility, the grandeur and begrudgery of our endeavors. Of Collins's endeavor, however, we can proclaim our permanent thanks and amazement and heartiest welcome." --Los Angeles Times Book Review

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