Bayswater's Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor Blog

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Who is Who?

     Do you ever catch your mind drifting while you are reading a book?  You know, one minute you know what is going on, and the next minute you have no idea who is speaking or how a character is related to the story?  It happens to all of us and this week’s “Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor” was designed for just those moments.

     Our find was discovered in John Hersey’s 1950 book, “The Wall”, which tells the fictional story of 40 men and women who escape the Warsaw ghetto in the early 1940s.  Tucked into the front cover of the book was a small booklet written 67 years ago entitled, Cast of Characters.  The booklet lists the 60 characters that are in the book, along with their nationality and relationship to other characters.  Yes, you read that right – there are 60 important characters.  There are Officers of the Jewish Council, Leaders of the Underground Groups, Leaders of the Jewish Fighter Organization, and many other character groups. 

     Interestingly, at the top of the booklet, the author of the booklet wrote that “because of the unfamiliarity of East European names, readers of “The Wall” may find this occasionally useful for identification.”  Occasionally useful?  We don’t know about you, but with 60 characters, we think that this booklet would be strapped to our sides at all times during the reading of the book.  One brief drift of the mind and we would be in for a long reference check in the handy dandy booklet.  Heck - that would most likely happen without the stray of mind!

     Ironically, a review written in April of 1950 (as the book was first published) praised author John Hersey for “concentrating on a manageable group of characters.”  Really?  What, then, would be an unmanageable amount of characters?  We think that the author of that review, upon reading recent works of fiction, would be pretty disappointed in the average number of characters in contemporary novels.  We don’t know about you, but we have never read a book that contained 60 characters and was accompanied by a reference booklet to keep them all straight!  Really, you gotta love what we come across in the pages of our used books.

     Hersey’s “The Wall” is for sale here at Bayswater for $9.99, complete with the character reference booklet (and you are going to need it).  Just a reminder that we will be publishing one blog at the beginning of each month only during the winter months, but you can catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor at and on facebook.  Better yet, stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!

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