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In Review: 'The Goldfinch' is a tale of art and loss

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Written by MAE ANDERSON, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 08:43
Donna Tartt's novel titled 'The Goldfinch' was inspired by the 1654 painting by Carel Fabritius. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

NEW YORK - The Goldfinch (Little, Brown & Co.), by Donna Tartt, is an absorbing novel that begins when an ordinary excursion to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City by 13-year-old Theo Decker and his mother erupts in a sudden, senseless act of violence. In the mayhem that follows, Decker's mother is killed and he somehow picks up and walks away with a priceless piece of artwork from the 1600s, The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius. The scene unfolds slowly in harrowing detail and sets in motion nearly every subsequent event in the novel.

Suddenly motherless, Decker's quiet life becomes tumultuous. He is taken in by his friend's wealthy and kind but distant family, and later goes to live with his estranged, gambling-addicted father and his cocktail waitress girlfriend on the semi-abandoned outskirts of Las Vegas. There he meets Boris, a charming but unhinged ex-pat with Ukrainian and Russian roots who becomes his best friend, introducing Decker to a larger world via both Russian novels and drugs.

As he grows older, he continues to secretly protect the painting, both as a work of beauty he has grown to cherish and as the only link to life before the tragedy. Establishing himself as an antiques dealer back in New York as an adult, Decker strives for a calm life, but soon Boris re-emerges and everything he thought was in his past comes back in full force to haunt him.

Tartt, in her third novel after The Secret History and The Little Friend, paints the many different strata of life that Decker floats through with vivid detail, including the dissolute Vegas gambling scene, high-society Manhattan, the world of antique furniture dealing and shady underworld art dens.

The author trains an acute eye on the moral ambiguity of all of her characters in The Goldfinch: Decker, for example, can be deeply sympathetic but also proves capable of shocking acts both unethical and violent.

The painting The Goldfinch, which in reality hangs in The Hague in the Netherlands, portrays a delicate bird chained permanently to a perch, looking toward the viewer with solemn dignity, and Tartt's characters wrestle with the question of whether they are any freer than the finch, or just as imprisoned by their own unreliable hearts or fate.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-10-21-13 1642GMT

Donna Tartt's novel titled 'The Goldfinch' was inspired by the 1654 painting by Carel Fabritius. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 09:03

Books: Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2014

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Written by Outside Media Source   
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 09:52

Image courtesy of Antique Trader

IOLA, Wis. — Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2014 -- America's No. 1 selling fine art and collectibles price guide four years running -- is now on sale with new collecting categories, market analysis and special features.

This year marks the 30th anniversary for the price guide, and it is fully updated with more than 4,500 color photographs, descriptions and real-time market values. At 816 pages, it explains and illustrates a broad range of antiques and collectibles, from art glass to Wild West memorabilia. Once again at the helm is Eric Bradley, public relations associate with Heritage Auctions and former editor of Antique Trader magazine.

"For this very special 30th-anniversary edition of the Antique Trader Price Guide, we chart the dramatic changes taking place in how people collect, where dealers source inventory and why auction houses set records year after year," Bradley said. "What we found may surprise longtime collectors: several categories are enjoying a renaissance and fascinating discoveries taking place every year are inspiring new collectors. Each entry is guaranteed to be illustrated with a full-color photo so collectors can enjoy the form and function of more than 4,500 antiques and collectibles."

"We work to make the Antique Trader Price Guide dependable but never predictable, and this very special 30th-anniversary year's edition is more than just a valuable identification guide to the wide world of fine art and collectibles," Bradley said. "It’s also an entertaining read that will teach everyone something new about the precious objects they love."

New categories of this edition include:

• Circus Collectibles

• Antique and Vintage Firearms

• Salesman's Samples

• Science & Technology

• Transistor Radios

• Western Art

Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles 2014 Price Guide retails for $22.99 and is available at booksellers nationwide, local antiques shops, and directly from the publisher (Krause Publications) online at or by calling 855-864-2579 (M-F 8a.m. - 5 p.m.)

For more information about this new book visit

About the Author:

Eric Bradley works in public relations for Heritage Auctions, the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest. A lifelong student of antiques, Bradley served as editor of Antique Trader magazine, and the Antique Trader Blog. In addition to writing hundreds of articles on antiques, collecting and the trade, Bradley has made several media appearances as an expert on the antiques and collectibles market. His work has received press from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Bradley is an avid collector of American art pottery, folk art, and WWII homefront collectibles.

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 Image courtesy of Antique Trader

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 10:07

2014 'Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide' released

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Written by PRWeb news release   
Tuesday, 27 August 2013 14:20

Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2014, 46th Edition. Image courtesy

CLEVELAND (PRWEB) – Antique collectors in the know have been flocking to Kovels for information about antiques and collectibles and their values since the publication of their first collectors’ price guide. The just-published 46th edition of Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide for 2014 is now available at

Antiques and collectibles can be an inexpensive way to furnish a home. And expressing individuality while reusing and repurposing is a growing trend. That makes flea markets, auctions, shops and shows hot places to shop, and Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles 2014 Price Guide is the most complete and user-friendly aid to take along.

Whether buying, selling, valuing, downsizing or just thinking about assembling a collection, Kovels’ 2014 Price Guide is a must-have resource. It’s brimming with prices, photos, facts and tips. Over 700 categories that cover an enormous range of interests make Kovels' Price Guide as useful to the novice collector as it is to the experienced appraiser. And it’s all listed in an easy-to-read format, with indexes and cross-references, record prices, hundreds of logos, marks, and factory histories, and without the auction house or museum speak that can be confusing to the average collector. This year's annual guide lists 35,000 current real-market prices and features 2,500 color pictures of items, all sold during the past year.

Looking for the inexpensive, the unusual, the exceptional, the valuable, the whimsical? It's in there too. Prices range from $1 for a saucer made by Harker to $239,000 for a Babe Ruth baseball cap. Discover oddities like a vampire killing kit for $14,800, a cut glass toupee stand from the American Brilliant period for $590, and an iron manhole cover with an image of Ashville, N.C. city hall for $470. Emerging collectibles like modernist jewelry and 20th-century studio pottery (still some bargains to be had) are listed along with old standbys like toy cars, mechanical banks and political memorabilia (going up in price). All these make Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2014 an essential tool to help buyers and sellers understand the market and make wise decisions., created by Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel, provides collectors and researchers with up-to-date and accurate information on antiques and collectibles. Kovels’ Antiques was founded in 1953 by Terry Kovel and her late husband, Ralph. Since then, Kovels’ Antiques has continually published some of America’s most popular books and articles about antiques, including the best-selling Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide, now in its 46th edition. The Kovels’ website, online since 1998, and free weekly email, “Kovels Komments,” give readers a bird's-eye view of the market through up-to-date news, auction reports, free online Price Guide, a marks dictionary, readers’ questions with Kovels’ answers and much more.


 Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2014, 46th Edition. Image courtesy

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 14:38

Morgan’s raider ‘Stovepipe’ Johnson subject of new book

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Written by JESS MANCINI, Parkersburg News and Sentinel   
Monday, 08 July 2013 09:27

Confederate Gen. Adam R. 'Stovepipe' Johnson. Image courtesy of Archive and Dorothy Sloan Rare Books.

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) – A noted Civil War historian from Parkersburg has written a book about Stovepipe Johnson's retreat through West Virginia after the Battle of Buffington Island on July 19, 1863.

“Incidents of Morgan's Raid with an Account of Stovepipe Johnson's Retreat Through West Virginia” came off the press on June 19 and was written by Brian Kesterson using a manuscript written by Charles R. Rector, the grandson of the Rev. Enoch Rector, a staunch Unionist and respected Baptist minister in the Mid-Ohio Valley who confronted Johnson as he retreated from the pursuing federal troops.

Most of what has been written about the battle has been about Gen. John Hunt Morgan, Kesterson said. Nothing has been written about Col. Adam Rankin “Stovepipe” Johnson and his retreat through West Virginia, he said.

Johnson was a commander under Morgan, who had conducted raids throughout Ohio and Indiana. Morgan was pursued by Union troops and as Morgan's men attempted to cross the rain-swollen Ohio River at Reedsville in Washington County across from Belleville in Wood County, two federal gunships came down the river and fired upon the men, Kesterson said.

Many men and horses drowned, Kesterson said. Morgan and most of his men turned around and returned to Ohio, but about 300 men under Johnson made it across the river into West Virginia after they were aided by a southern sympathizer, Kesterson said.

Johnson eventually went to the Rev. Rector's farm in Mineral Wells where his men took whatever they needed, including Rector's prize horse, Kesterson said.

Rector protested and Johnson warned him that if he was to retaliate in any way, he would return to the farm, burn it to the ground and Rector and his family would watch the flames in sack cloth, Kesterson said.

Charles Rector wrote his account of the incident in 1927 in a 13-page story, Kesterson said. The original manuscript after editing and corrections was pared to about four pages, he said.

“This 1927 account is a good account,” Kesterson said.

The manuscript was acquired by Kesterson at an auction of the estate of the late Paul Somerville, who worked with Kesterson's father at Dupont, W.Va.

The book, written to coincide with the sesquicentennial of the battle, includes a driving tour of Johnson's retreat through present-day West Virginia, Kesterson said.

Johnson may have gotten his name by using stovepipes on wheels to look like cannon and tricking a Union garrison to surrender for fear of being shelled.

Kesterson has been recognized for his histories of the Civil War. He participated in the sesquicentennial observances at Gettysburg where he was the chief musician-bugler of the United States Veteran Volunteers of the 2nd Division.

An introduction was written by Aaron A. Crites, an assistant professor of history at West Virginia at Parkersburg. Crites said the Battle at Buffington Island is often overshadowed by Gettysburg and Vicksburg.

Kesterson's book, of which only 500 have been printed, is important for Washington, Meigs, Jackson, Wood, Wirt, Calhoun, Gilmer, Braxton, Nicholas, Greenbrier and Monroe counties, Crites said.

The book, which is $22, will be available at Barking Dog Books and Art, 212 Putnam St., Marietta, Ohio; J&M Used Bookstore, 1215 Blizzard Drive, Parkersburg; and the Parkersburg Antique Mall on Emerson Avenue.


Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.),

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights released. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-06-13 1416GMT


Confederate Gen. Adam R. 'Stovepipe' Johnson. Image courtesy of Archive and Dorothy Sloan Rare Books. 

Last Updated on Monday, 08 July 2013 10:09

W. Va. senator immerses himself in Mountain State books

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Written by ZACK HAROLD, Charleston Daily Mail   
Friday, 05 July 2013 09:59
Books on the Civil War in West Virginia. Image courtesy of Archive and Ken Farmer Auctions. CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Sen. Brooks McCabe's wife likes to rib him about his reading habits.

“Barbie thinks I'm semi-illiterate because I don't read fiction and I don't read the sports page,” he said.

McCabe probably isn't the person to ask about a new James Patterson thriller, or how the Reds are faring in the National League rankings.

But let's say you're looking for a copy of a graduate thesis from the 1970s about the West Virginia coal industry, or a new biography of U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall.

In that case, McCabe's your man.

Over the last 40 years, the longtime state senator has amassed a library of thousands of books focused exclusively on West Virginia, its history, its economy and its citizens. It now occupies a whole room of his South Hills home, with volumes crammed into the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that cover two of its four walls.

McCabe seems to know exactly where each of his books is located, although he has to stand on the back of his well-worn leather couch to reach some of the highest shelves.

He does his reading in a matching leather armchair, which sits in front of a big wood-burning fireplace. On snowy or rainy weekends, McCabe builds a fire and spend hours in this room.

“This is almost my nest here. I'll spend three or four hours a day, Saturday and Sunday, reading there,” he said.

Although he reads as many as 50 books a year, McCabe is in no danger of running out of material. He purchases any West Virginia-related book he finds, fiction or nonfiction, although he reads only the nonfiction. There's even a small collection of West Virginia cookbooks in his kitchen.

“There's a lot more out there than most people think,” he said.

He finds many of his books through other books.

McCabe pays special attention to footnotes and bibliographies, always on the lookout for unfamiliar titles he might find interesting. He jots down the title and author on an index card, which he later uses to track the book on the Internet.

Many times, even the most obscure books are readily available on popular websites like But McCabe also shops on sites like, which specializes in rare and collectible books.

He usually reads multiple books on the same subject. That explains why many shelves in his library are dedicated to specific subjects.

One section is reserved for the Hatfields and the McCoys. One whole bookcase is dedicated to county histories, organized in rough alphabetical order. Other shelves contain books on the coal industry, tourism, Stonewall Jackson, West Virginia's constitutional conventions and transportation.

From Baltimore to Charleston, a thin volume about the B&O Railroad, cost $2.50 when it was first published in 1906. McCabe paid $60 for it. Another book, The Picturesque B&O, describes itself as “historical and descriptive,” even though it was published in 1882.

“You read this, written at the time and you get a different perspective. These people are trying to describe history as they want it remembered,” McCabe said. “That's the fun of it, to see the different interpretations and try to see, ‘Well, what really happened?’”

A section of shelves beside the fireplace is reserved for West Virginia biographies and autobiographies. There are books about well-known natives like Homer Hickam, Gen. Chuck Yeager and Jerry West, but also lesser-known West Virginians like Louis Johnson, one of the founding partners of the Steptoe and Johnson law firm.

They all hold interest for McCabe. He even tries to get copies of family histories, which are usually printed in small runs as a way to preserve a family's memories, rather than mass-market armchair reading.

Most historians would have little interest in those, but they provide a picture of what life was like.

“It's a local take on somebody earning a living at the time,” he said.

While he handles the older volumes with care, McCabe makes the newer volumes his own, scrawling notes in the margins and underlining key passages.

“It becomes part of me. I want to be able to ... very quickly go back and pull out what I need,” he said.

It's an essential skill for McCabe, who now plans to contribute his own book to the West Virginia canon.

He plans to spend the next few years working on an economic history of Charleston as experienced by four of the capital city's prominent families.

The book will begin, McCabe said, with Dr. John P. Hale. Hale, one of the city's early mayors, was the great-grandson of Mary Ingles, an early settler who was famously abducted by Native Americans.

Another section will focus on Charleston's Smith family. Their patriarch, lawyer Benjamin Harrison Smith, greatly influenced the state's constitution, including the way land titles were settled in the newly formed Mountain State.

The book also will include the C.H James family—descendants of Charles H. James, a black man who founded the successful James Produce Co. in the late 1800s—and the Dickinsons, who owned salt mining operations before forming a bank that would one day become BB&T.

“They have a broad enough touch that, through them, I can write the history of Charleston,” McCabe said.

Following those four families allows him to explore the changes in business, politics, transportation and law and follow all the economic depressions and recessions the city suffered over its history.

His underlying goal is to understand how Charleston's economy works.

“Things don't just happen. People make them happen. In a way, we're a product of the events we create,” he said.

For proof, McCabe only has to visit his library.

He was diagnosed with dyslexia as a boy, and it took years for him to learn to read.

Now, he could be the most voracious reader in the Legislature.

“It took me so long to learn how to read, when I read a book, it's like a victory,” he said.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-02-13 1427GMT

Books on the Civil War in West Virginia. Image courtesy of Archive and Ken Farmer Auctions.
Last Updated on Friday, 05 July 2013 10:32
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