By The Book: Stories and Pictures
A young Italian decides to seek his fortune in America, and he finds himself following a script written for him generations ago. A mysterious voice challenges readers to look to nature to answer the unanswerable. Another bombards us with questions – to get to the root of things, perhaps; botany, history, and geography are also parsed in this amazingly creative book.
Each section in By The Book is taken from one or two source books, but those sources have been dismantled, splintered, then recombined. For example, the author sifts through long lists of dates and events in a history text to collect ‘That Which Prevails’, or a brief history of Rome. (This section of the book was my favorite, and often very funny.) The botanist’s descriptions, in this rendition, are much more sensual than a botany text has any business being. Except for the narrative in the first story, none of the words were originally the author’s; instead, she has used the technique of collage to create something evoking the original, but completely new. Collages of pictures overlaid with snippets of text accompany the prose. This style is intriguing and unique, and incredibly entertaining; creative readers will love this new, inventive art form.