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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Decluttering Wisdom from Larry McMurtry

A very long day, dear readers, involving a shopping trip with Frugal Daughter, dropping off Frugal Daughter with Frugal Son for an afternoon of sibling togetherness, an awards ceremony with free fancy lunch (Mr. DFS was a recipient of an award!), and a little more shopping with Frugal Daughter before heading home. At the fancy lunch, I asked if I could have some cheesecake for my children, and the chef obligingly packed up two big pieces in a nice container.

Frugal Tip: Just Ask!

I don't feel much like writing because that lunch was truly soporific, or rather, lunch followed by two hours of awards presentation is soporific. So I am following the advice given by a fellow student back in the day: when you don't feel like filling up the pages yourself, quote a lot.

Larry McMurtry is famous for writing The Last Picture Show among other novels. He is also a long-time book collector and dealer. He has written a delightful memoir titled Books (2008). In it he has this advice for the book dealer, which is also good advice for those of us with a clutter problem. It is also good advice for just about any situation, not just those involving the material world.

As a dealer who has accumulated hundreds of thousands of books, one practice I consider essential is the purge. . . .The bane of large secondhand book dealers is that good books do not pull bad books up: bad books pull good books down (249).

So true: on the bookshelf, in the closet, in one's engagements, and so on. (Frugal Daughter and I bought only a very few items. We have both been closet cleaning of late.)

So dear readers: do you put McMurtry's advice into practice? Do tell.


Chance said...

Feel's like all I'm doing these days is purging stuff. But what remains is "curated", I've chosen the item, it has survived the purge. I only keep the things I use or that make me happy, rather than have drifts of clutter. So yes, I follow this advice as well as the "just ask" advice.

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

I'm all about the purging here lately. The part that takes the most effort for me is deciding what goes and what stays.

The Fabric Bolt said...

As an English major and teacher I had a lot of books - shelves upon shelves with books piled on top of books. Note the word "had." Now I have a couple small stacks and those stacks change every few months. Only a few books remain constant. I can't stand to have a lot of stuff around anymore - got that way after I had kids have all their stuff about! I sell most books on amazon and what I can't/don't sell I give to Goodwill. We do the same thing to our closets each season and last summer I attached my kitchen cabinets and took about eight bags to Goodwill that same day.

The Fabric Bolt said...

Oops - spelling errors in my hurry - not attached - ATTACKED!

Anonymous said...

Yep, last summer I made a vow to have no more than 4 glassed in bookshelves and I have kept my promise even though it requires some wicked pruning every six months or so.

Duchesse said...

Frugal, I would never have had the chutzpah to ask a chef for the cheesecake. I'd consider how to handle any surplus the prerogative of my hosts, and not expect their hospitality to extend to those absent, unless they urged me "take some home."

And yet, if the cheesecake was to be thrown out, better to have somebody eat it. The waste at some of these events is just awful.

You're making me think about whether frugality trumps what I was reared to think of as "good manners".

Congratulations on the award!

I pass on all books immediately, the wardrobe purge is more painful and takes me longer.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Chance--It is a miserable task for me still. You seem to have stuff under more control.
@Cubicle--ditto for you! Still a struggle for me.
@Fabric--Books are sooooo hard for me to get rid of, esp since I keep thinking "my children may need them for a class."
@Terri--See above! I'm impressed.
@Duchesse--This was a buffet. There were at least 30 pieces of cheesecake remaining there and everyone was leaving. No, I would not do this at a "served" meal. So I think my manners were OK (????). At least, I hope so.

Anonymous said...

I cleared out a lot of clothes last year when I had my room done and went from 3 double fitted wardrobes to just one. But I can do more - there is a bag of them under my bed I haven't touched for 8 months so they can probably go.

Books are harder; when I finish painting my spare room [read oversized cupboard with PC] I will have floor to ceiling shelves put in between the chimney breast and the outside wall for my books. Then I will go through them all and see what I can get rid of. At present they are piled up in such a way I can't find anything.

Otherwise, I am purging stuff on an ongoing basis. I hate clutter, except for books

Frugal Scholar said...

@Alienne--Sounds like you're better at this than I am. Thanks for stopping by.