Monday, April 28, 2008

oh please, no (1)

just one this time

Four Short Plays
Wade Savitt
Green Zone
New York, New York

This has to be one of the worst books that Green Zone has brought out in years. SAVE A TREE!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Chapbooks 22

mystic, Mystic
Joseph W, Wagner
Five Mile Publications
Rowayton, CT.

This unique chapbook, 8X8 with black & white photos interspersed with text, was the brainchild of Joseph Wagner who is credited with photography and design for this project. The text is a combination of the sea journal of Captain Joshua Slocum, from 1895, and poetry written by a distant relative of the Captain, Robert N Slocomb, Jr.

At the center of this collection is the town and myth of Mystic, Conn. It weaves itself through each page and every image. It’s a great collection and a wonderful concept. Worth the find.

My Dance is Mathematics
JoAnne Growney
Paper Kite Press
Kingston, PA

Paper Kite Press has been working hard over the past few years to perfect their own vision of what makes a quality chapbook. Here is one. Hand-stitched, this handsome 21 page chapbook is something to aspire to. The poetry is wonderful as well.

Anthony Hawley
Ugly Duckling Presse
Brooklyn, NY

This one is a bit smaller, 6 X 6, bound by twine in what I might call ‘typical ugly duckling fashion’. I happen to like the work presented by Ugly Duckling Presse, and this is no exception. It’s the first collection by Mr. Hawley. It’s reads like a single poem. It might be. There is no directive nor biographic material, must be something about the vagueness of New York City. No permanence or no background; something.

The cover is imprinted with the book’s title, done by linoleum cut, using wraparound cover art. It’s a quite handsome little collection. Hurray once again for Ugly Duckling Presse!

The following two chapbooks deal with the other thing that this blog is about, and that is the act of printing as nearly every chapbook I have written about in the 18 months or so that I have been doing this blog has been printed – some by hand-press, or letterpress, but all by the sweat of someone’s brow and I appreciate and applaud that effort in the name of PRINTING everywhere:

The Bookbinder in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg
C. Clement Samford
Williamsburg Craft Series
Colonial Williamsburg, VA

This tiny little chapbook was created at a time when Colonial Williamsburg was still being re-invented and revived from the ashes of history and neglect that had left it buried until Rockefeller money and interest brought back the area. The subtitle of this chapbook is ‘An Account of his Life & Times, & of his Craft’ as interpreted by C. Clement Samford, Master Bookbinder of Colonial Williamsburg’. Though a mere 32 pages long, this interesting book details the remarkable history of bookbinding and printing in the Colonial period prior to our Revolutionary War. What I find most remarkable is how precarious life and printing was then – how on the edge of the known world, of “civilized” world they were in Williamsburg, or Philadelphia, or Boston was then – how long they had to wait for printing presses to arrive from Europe, along with parts and supplies. Living on the edge. And now, some three HUNDRED years later, printers still live on the edge in this country. Printers who are attempting to keep the art form alive. Printers who view themselves as artists, craftsmen; magicians with machine and font. Their canvas is the blank page they are about to print onto. Their “paintbrush” is the bound letters prepared to be used.

Then consider how many books are published each year, double that number to account for these little “slivers of nothing’ and one can only marvel that anyone pays any attention at all to chapbooks, their authors, or their publishers. Yet, people do. Cause for celebration to be sure.

An Apology for Printers
Benjamin Franklin
Acropolis Books Limited
Washington D.C.

Important little book, every publisher should get a copy and read it. This edition was edited with an introduction by Randolph Goodman, prefatory notes by Philip Wittenberg, with engravings by John De Pol, and compiled with design by Harvey Sautenstein. Thanks to all involved in bringing this little book out. To me the most important words are those of Ben Franklin himself at the conclusion of this piece,

“I consider the variety of humors among men, and despair
of pleasing everyone; yet I shall not there leave off printing.
I shall continue my business. I shall not burn my press and
melt my letters.”

No printers should, ever.