Saturday, September 1, 2007

Altered States

Miss Prothero's is hosting an altered book show in October. Never heard of such a thing? Come on, now! Everyone is doing it. I've seen designer hand bags made out of trade paperbacks, switch plates made from loose pages, lunch boxes made of condensed reader's digest editions. There's even an international society of altered book artists.

To get ready for the altered book show, book artist Nancy Missbach will be giving a talk on September 21 and teaching a class on 23rd. (Call the store at 303-572-2260 for details.) Nancy will also be altering a book of her own. (I promise to post pictures as soon as she gets started.)

And I'm getting in to the game. I've picked a copy of Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton's The Last of the Barons. If you've ever heard of the worst opening line ever written, then you've heard of Bulwer-Lytton.* That worst opening line is not from The Last of the Barons, but there are plenty of other stinkers spread liberally throughout this novel. When I looked at the book, I thought about the ego that wrote it. Bulwer-Lytton was not a man with a self-esteem problem. He probably looked at himself in the mirror every day and liked what he saw. Thinking like this led me to an idea about how I wanted to alter the book. I'd make Bulwer-Lytton paper dolls of the pages. (Who knows. Edward might have liked that.) I have to remove the pages to make the paper dolls and I'm not sure how I'm going to reattach them, but I'm having fun. Yes, I do feel a little sacrilegious cutting at the pages. I'll get over it.

*Here's the world's worst opening line for those of you who haven't been subjected to it --

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

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