”The phonograph knows more about us than we know ourselves, for it retains the memory of many things which we forget, even though we have said them.” Journalist and former EW contributor Amanda Petrusich employs the Thomas Edison quote midway into her book, and it doubles as a manifesto of sorts. Do Not Sell enticingly chronicles her immersion in a subset of record collectors — the devoted few who spend their lives searching for obscure jazz, folk, and blues 78s. These people are in it more for the sake of preservation than for any personal motive, though Petrusich gently, without pointing fingers, mentions both autism and OCD as she takes us on a ride-along through their world.
She too performs a sort of preservation here: Just as the men she writes about collect and catalog vinyls, she collects and catalogs the men themselves. Her compelling, finely drawn portraits of obsessives such as James McKune and Harry Smith amount to a rich study of ”the old, weird America” combing through the dusty stacks at estate sales, flea markets, and record stores. B+