Last updateFri, 21 Sep 2018 10am

Newspaper folks: Gritting teeth, learning to burn books and make it all make sense

Many habitual, devoted readers wonder how “book burners” manage their destructive habit.  

In the 1970s, the annual Easter time ritual at the Reporter wasn’t an easy-going or nimble habit at this newspaper, which was then called the Colony Reporter.  The founder and owner of the Reporter was Robert Thurston.  And, for both him and for me, it was a time of raw destruction.  I have another good friend, a gringo, who burns a batch of his books whenever the calendar edges toward this time of year. 

Both Thurston and I were book addicts who came to this practice reluctantly – actually unhappily.   Thurston had business records that theoretically could be destroyed – or could they?  And I’m a collector of books I find exceptionally outstanding.   The various issues of Octavio Paz’s marvelous “Labyrinth of Solitude” – as it grew with “new additions” over the years, for instance.   I and other friends of his would kid Paz that he was adding new additions to the original issue so he could boast about how the sales of “Labyrinth” kept growing with time.  But after a time the humor in that “joke” disappeared for Paz. 

Book burning was usually a Sunday ritual with Thurston.  And one he – and his helpers, my wife and I – grew to dislike as the Mexican government became more strict about forcing businesses to keep more and more proof of outgoing business expenses.  

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