Brian's Reviews > The Printer's Devil: A True Story

The Printer's Devil by Bill FairBairn
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's review
Feb 21, 2012

it was ok
Read from February 27 to 28, 2012 — I own a copy

(2.0) Mildly entertaining, written (I suppose fittingly or at least unsurprisingly) in somewhat newspapery style

It's a whirlwind memoir of pretty much his entire typesetting/sweeping/editing/reporting career from 1950s Scotland to volunteering at a local paper in Canada in 2000. He interestingly omits his time in Africa, subject of another book of his.

It was entertaining in parts. I particularly enjoyed reading about his teaching at a college in Kamloops (I've been nearish there!), his time in Montreal with his landlady there, and his time up in Yellowknife. It seemed that there may have been rich enough material to focus a memoir on each one of those, if he'd only dive deeper. Yeah, he'd have to fill in the gaps a bit to recreate events and conversations from the 70s, but isn't that what memoir-writing is? Dramatize the skeletons of memories from years ago?

Anyway, he writes in very short, choppy, newspapery paragraphs and flits from subject to subject, often tacking unrelated sentences at the end of paragraphs. I hadn't read writing that doesn't all move in the same direction before. I often couldn't understand the point he was trying to make with an anecdote...wait, is he being a jerk, a fool or a sage here?

Also felt that he brought up his "other book" a few too many times, included a few too many of his own articles

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