A Comedy of Values
By Lawrence Weschler
(University of Chicago Press, Hardcover, 9780226893952, 160pp.)
Publication Date: June 1999
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In this highly entertaining book, Lawrence Weschler chronicles the antics of J. S. G. Boggs, an artist whose consuming passion is money, or perhaps more precisely, value. Boggs draws money-paper notes in standard currencies from all over the world-and tries to spend his drawings. It is a practice that regularly lands him in trouble with treasury police around the globe and provokes fundamental questions regarding the value of art and the value of money.
"Lawrence Weschler, who evidently admires [Boggs]-something not difficult to do-has written what may be the most extraordinary biography imaginable: "weird," to use a favourite Boggs word. It does something towards changing our entire outlook on money and its uses. And the reader is left with an uneasy feeling that anything in this world can be created by drawing it." —Ruth Rendell, Daily Telegraph
"As ideal a subject matter as money is for Boggs' genius, Boggs is as ideal a topic for Weschler's considerable talents. . . . A writer any less lucid than Weschler would smudge the lines, making of Boggs a counterculture caricature or a high-art huckster. And a writer any less confident would knock the balance, making academic mud pies of Boggs' enlightened chaos." —Jonathon Keats, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"[A] witty and engaging chronicle. . . . Weschler's fascinating account of the artist as agent provocateur demonstrates both the significance of Boggs's art and his determination to continue his unusual critique of the idea of money." —Henry Wessells, Washington Post Book World
"[A] witty, excellently written account of a bizarre and fascinating snippet of modern life." —Paul Ormerod, Times Higher Education Supplement
"The book, like the artist, challenges people to pause and consider the extent to which the economic bedrock of everyday life is in part a confusing welter of artistic abstractions. It's a work that is at once informative, entertaining, and provocative-a reading experience, one might say, of rather good value." —Toby Lester, Atlantic Monthly
"[A] fascinating tale, especially in these days of fluctuating currency rates, the euro, and inexplicable Net-stock valuations." —Paul Lukas, Fortune
Lawrence Weschler, a recipient of the prestigious Lannan Literary Award for 1998, is the author of numerous books, including Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas, and Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, which was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.