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Book Review: 'Killer Stuff and Tons of Money'

The popularity of TV shows such as "Antiques Roadshow" and "American Pickers" makes it easy to believe that a fortune is just waiting to be found in grandma's attic, a neighbor's garage sale or a local flea market.

Maureen Stanton's book "Killer Stuff and Tons of Money" (Penguin Press, $26.95) gives an inside look at what it truly takes -- physically, financially and emotionally -- to make something that approaches a living in the world of antiques and collectibles.

Stanton will be in Tulsa on Tuesday as the guest of BookSmart Tulsa. She will talk about her new book at an event beginning at 7 p.m. at the Philbrook Museum of Art, 2727 S. Rockford Road.

"Killer Stuff and Tons of Money" is primarily the story of Curt Avery -- the pseudonym she gave to the real-life dealer Stanton met in 2000 and shadowed for several years, as he schooled her in the antiques trade.

"Every week he plays to win," Stanton writes, "searching through piles of junk at flea markets or through fancy antique stores, avoiding the glut of reproductions, the clever fakes ('land mines,' he calls them), outmaneuvering his competitors at auctions, applying 20 years of hard-won knowledge, wisdom that he gained the long way -- awake at dawn for flea markets, up till midnight hitting the books -- and the most expensive way, the most painful lessons of all: buying 'mistakes.' ... The competition is fierce, the rules few, and the true treasures are rare or well hidden except to the sharp eye of the autodidact."

The book gives some behind-the-glamour views of auction houses and "Antiques Roadshow," which Stanton describes as "soft-core porn for the antiques fetishist," as well as a view of the whole process as antiques dealers like Avery end up with houses full of "stuff other people don't want."

She writes of Avery, "His house is still too full for comfort, but he has a new truck, and as the odometer ticks the miles away he scours the countryside searching for that 'super-great' thing, that 'killer' object, the Holy Grail. His is, after all, a labor of love."

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