A defense of the dying art of losing an afternoon—and gaining new appreciation—amidst the bins and shelves of bricks-and-mortar shops.
Written during the pandemic, when the world was marooned at home and consigned to scrolling screens, On Browsing’s essays chronicle what we’ve lost through online shopping, streaming, and the relentless digitization of culture. The latest in the Field Notes series, On Browsing is an elegy for physical media, a polemic in defense of perusing the world in person, and a love letter to the dying practice of scanning bookshelves, combing CD bins, and losing yourself in the stacks.
About the author
Jason Guriel is the author of several books, including the verse novel Forgotten Work (Biblioasis 2020). His writing has appeared in Air Mail, The Atlantic, The Walrus, Slate, The Yale Review, and many other magazines. He lives in Toronto.
Praise for On Browsing
"Browsing is many things: a lifestyle, a relaxation, a revelation if your search finds a long-sought book or a rare recording, and perhaps more importantly a soul-refreshing excursion in a world of instant online search-and-buy options."
—Winnipeg Free Press
"'Our choices are chisels,' says Jason Guriel. This moving book will fill you with a good kind of sadness and help you understand your own nostalgias.”
—Nicholson Baker, author of The Mezzanine
"A mall parking lot, a defunct record store, the lingering crease on a book cover—across the all-flattening boundary of the digital age, Guriel recalls what it meant to access the universal one particular, physical piece at a time."
—Tom Scocca, author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future
Praise for Forgotten Work
“A futuristic dystopian rock novel in rhymed couplets, this rollicking book is as unlikely, audacious and ingenious as the premise suggests.”
—New York Times
“A wondrous novel.”
—Ron Charles, Washington Post
“What do you get when you throw John Shade, Nick Drake, Don Juan, Sarah Records, and Philip K. Dick into a rhymed couplet machine? Equal parts memory and forgetting, detritus and elegy, imagination and fancy, Forgotten Work could be the most singular novel-in-verse since Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate. Thanks to Jason Guriel’s dexterity in metaphor-making, I found myself stopping and rereading every five lines or so, to affirm my surprise and delight.”
“This book has no business being as good as it is. Heroic couplets in the twenty-first century? It’s not a promising idea, but Forgotten Work is intelligent, fluent, funny, and wholly original. I can’t believe it exists.”