Selling Dead People’s Things

Title: Selling Dead People’s Things

Writer: Duane Scott Cerny

Publishing House: Thunderground Press

Date of Publication: May 25th 2018

Rating: 4 stars

‘’{…} imagine the business of vintage as the opposite of an enormous, heaven-wide window – a window that has no secrets, no filter. A portal through which everything can pass: life or death, normal or paranormal, objects or objections to same, reusable or residue, and given the commerce of our nature, profit or loss.’’

Boring personal story alert: My family on my mother’s side has always had an affinity for old things. My grandma’s sister had a beautiful villa in Frosinone, in Italy, built next to a lake and old windmill. If ever was a place to give shelter to fairies, elves and all kinds of spirits, this would be it. Her house was furnished with Spanish pieces and all kinds of antiques from the Mediterranean. My godmother’s summer house was similarly decorated, my grandma had a deep love for old jars and embroidery. Now, my mother and I are a lot more contemporary in our tastes. We love browsing around but we’d never buy all that heavy furniture and thick curtains with the enormous tassels. Now, I was a bit deceived by this book because the wonderfully creepy cover led me to believe this would be all about haunted objects. There are creepy bits but I found so much more than that. This is a beautiful book for anyone who loves antiques and for all of us who enjoy reading memoirs by people who respect their profession and their customers.

From what I gathered by spending quality time with his book, Cerny is actually a living legend in his field. His antique shop has become a sightseeing spot, a showstopper in Chicago. From classic pieces to movie props, Cerny writes about artifacts acquired by chance, on a whim, on purpose after a long and exhausting search and bargain, about dear objects that held too many memories and too much pain for their owners. His writing is very satisfying, in my opinion. I felt as if a friend had come to my house, sat in my living room, sharing his life story with me over cups of coffee. He doesn’t try to appear funny or smart as another reviewer mentioned. He IS funny AND smart and full of respect for the people who influenced his life and his profession. I felt transported to Chicago as if I’ve been there countless times. He also included three stories that made my blood freeze. A haunted writing desk, a creepy hospital where experiments used to take place and a downright weird ventriloquist (I hate ventriloquists….) Stories about death and premonitions, the time when HIV began to terrorize the world give a dark vibe to an otherwise tender, nostalgic and elegant narration. And naturally, I can’t resist not praising a reference to Florence Welch.

This is a very particular memoir. A moving account of a life dedicated to preserving and protecting the treasures countless people left behind. Respect, knowledge, and love fill every chapter and the reader is taken on a fascinating journey to the past. Perhaps, the ‘’writer’’ of the atrocious, awfully disrespectful The Diary of a Bookseller should take a lesson or two (probably many…) from an actual professional who is honest and humble. And how can anyone consider the front cover of Cerny’s book horrible is completely beyond me…

Many thanks to Thunderground Press and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Ayunda says:

    This sounds like a very unique book, and that cover looks so haunting and interesting! It’s been a while since I read a memoir, and this topic is definitely interesting even though I’m not very familiar with it in general.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Ayunda! I think this one is definitely very special as a subject matter and Cerny is a rather gifted writer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds interesting and different. Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oooh, this sounds like a lovely macabre read! 🙂 I love that you’ve put an accent on the writer handling this horrible and weird job with care and affection, lovely review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dearest one! I was pleasantly surprised by how humble and respectful Cerny is given the fact that he is such a famous pioneer in his extremely demanding field.

      Liked by 1 person

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