Tuesday, May 3, 2016

61 Books: #24

The project: to read 61 books, of whatever sort—short, long; literature, schlock; prose, poetry: you name it—before December 4, 2016.

The first ten books can be seen here. The second ten are here. Nos. 21–23 are just below this post.

24. Philip C. Stead, Ideas Are All Around (2016) (5/3/16)
A gorgeous picture book about a man and his dog, Wednesday, and a walk they take around the neighborhood. "I have to write a story today," he explains. "That is my job. I write stories. But today I don't have any ideas." On their walk they encounter a turtle named Frank ("someday I hope he looks forward to these smidgeons of time we share. Me and Frank we're in this together after all"); a woman named Barbara who lives in a blue house at the top of a hill; a train; a line of ducks and a heron (it is she who points out that "ideas are all around"); people waiting for the soup kitchen; even woolly mammoths, at least in the imagination.

The book is illustrated with monotype prints and collage as well as Polaroid 300 photos. One entire spread is given over to photos of the sky, which (the sky, that is) the author looks at while the people waiting for the soup kitchen lavish affection on Wednesday. The text was composed on a Smith-Corona Secretarial typewriter (also featured in the story). The overall look of the book is airy and spacious, with simple, elegant graphics.

The story itself feels rather "adult" in its subtlety. But I like that. This is a book I will surely pick up again and again as a treat for the eyes and a bit of encouragement, when I'm feeling short on ideas. Now, if only I had my own Barbara in my life . . .

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