Paradise unfolding

Nobody crafts words like Merilyn Simonds. If you’re a word-craft-lover, I think you would very much enjoy reading about the evolution of The Paradise Project: her collection of flash fiction, now being printed in slow motion by letterpress …

… on St. Armand’s mold-made “salad” paper, with endpapers made from her garden and lino cut illustrations made by her son, artist Erik Mohr.

The Paradise Project is a collection of her award-wining short stories with gardens at their core, a bed-rock of imagery that is always with her. 

Merilyn on the “easy” work of writing:

It is an easy job, at least on those days when the words are there lining up, compliant, but feisty, too. Even when they aren’t, when I spend hours lugging commas from here to there, shovelling in new phrases, axing them out again, prying words apart, wedging in fresh ones, even then what survives always looks easy. The better the writing, the easier it looks.

Merilyn writes evocatively, emotionally, sparely. If you’re like me, you’ll tear up as well. 

The Paradise Project is being hand-published by Hugh Barclay, book artist and owner of Thee Hellbox Press. “I’m working on the last signature and I hope to put the press to bed on July 15th, providing that the stars and the moon are properly aligned.”

I long ago put in an order for one of these precious books. There won’t be many such. (Only three hundred, in fact.)

“Books of this artistic quality are only published about every 10-20 years and normally sell for 4-5 times what we are asking,” notes Hugh. The books are selling for $150 (about the cost of a forgetable night out in Toronto). If you are interested, e-mail Hugh to reserve a copy: 

Late-breaking news: because I put in my order long ago, my copy is book #1!!!


An elegy to books: miss you already

Old books

I’m already feeling nostalgic about books, now that the ebook is so fully upon us. When reading, I often pause, and regard the book itself: the lovely ragged edges, the cover, the author photo.

I love a book-lined room, love glancing over the books on my shelves, reveling in the memories that the books evoke. I love book clutter, and now I’m loving it all the more, with advance-longing against a time when all this will change.

The social life of a book

Consider the social life of a book! When I love a book, I look forward to loaning it to friends. How will I get to know someone if I can’t browse the books on his or her shelves? How will I know what people in lines, on airplanes, beaches, buses and subways are reading, if I can’t see the cover? (Yes, I’m a snoop.)

Has the time come?

I tell myself that the time has come. We can’t squander trees endlessly in the production of paper. I tell myself: the book will become more of an art-object, a treasure.

But already, facing a quickly-approaching future, I’m longing for the age that was, The Age of Books.