BOOKS: One Of Each

A clever novel explores the monomania of collecting

COLLECTORS ARE CRAZY, A LITTLE or a lot -- gently mad or glittery-eyed gaga. Nuttiness is the only sane explanation for wanting to possess every matchbook cover or baseball card ever printed or for paying $47 million to own a Van Gogh. Or trying to collect every fact in the space-time continuum by memorizing an encyclopedia or deciding to experience one of every kind of lover.

Thus collectors must be interesting, no? No, it turns out, in Geoff Nicholson's cheerfully loopy comic novel Hunters & Gatherers (Overlook; 215 pages; $21.95). Nicholson's hero, a feckless would-be writer named Steve Geddes, has unwisely...

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