Friday, August 6, 2004 Mongo : Adventures in Trash: Explore similar items Mongo : Adventures in Trash: Explore similar items

Book Description

mongo n. 1 [1970s +] an idiot. 2 [1980s +] (US, New York) any discarded object that is retrieved. 3. [1980s +] (US, New York) a scrap-metal scavenger. (The Cassell Dictionary of Slang)

When journalist Ted Botha moved to New York from South Africa, where people constructed homes out of what others considered trash, he decorated his apartment with furniture he found on Manhattan streets. Soon he realized he wasn't the only person finding things of value in the garbage, and he began roaming the streets meeting all kinds of collectors, united by their obsession with mongo-any discarded item that is rescued from the trash.

Here is Botha's remarkable record of his travels among collectors, who are as varied as the kind of mongo they seek. They range from housewife to homeless man, from accountant to computer consultant, from retrenched bank worker to full-time collector. One man finds jewelry in the sludge of New York's sewers; another has built one of the most extensive rare book collections in the city. The myriad reasons for collecting open a window into the range of human desires: some people collect for fun, others to make a living; some to find friends, others to snoop; some to make a political statement, others because it is an addiction. Collecting mongo is a longtime, universal phenomenon, at last receiving a worthy-and appropriately addictive-literary appreciation.

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