The Book Shop

The Book Shop: The People of Paper

And now, we leave you to your weekend debauchery with a very special Book Shop post — our beloved buddy Sarah Hughes sent us a review for one of our favorite readings (of all time… it’s amazing) that’s as well-written as the book itself.  Welcome, Sarah, to the ranks of guest blogger!  And welcome, readers, to more reading/shopping fun…

The People of Paper opens with a little boy bringing his butchered pet cat back to life with delicately folded paper organs and veins made from a college-ruled notebook.  It is this care, attention to detail, love, science and heartbreak that marks the rest of the novel, and sits with you long after the book is over.  Like a lump in your throat, made of origami.

The story centers around Little Merced, the daughter of a flower picking and perpetual bed-wetting father, who cures the sadness of her mother leaving with the sour tang of limes.  The ways in which people deal with heartbreak is a defining personality trait in the book-whether they rage or hurt themselves or take comfort in the song of a bird.  The cast of characters ranges from domino playing cholos to celestial bodies, but what the author lacks in focused, traditional character development, he mostly makes up for with first person perspectives, as well as an expertly-crafted intertwining plot and breath-taking prose.

The book itself is a piece of mixed-media art.  Pages are sometimes blank, words are blocked over and the text is usually split up into columns based on whose point of view it’s from.  The paper itself becomes a character in Plascencia’s descriptions — you almost find yourself rubbing it unconsciously, wondering what it tastes like or would feel like as a pillow or hand.

If you are already a fan of the sorrow and whimsy of Mexican literature, or modern authors like Jonathon Safran Foer, George Saunders, Eggers and others, this book will creep up on you like one of the story’s mechanical tortoises, but will remain lodged in even the most delicate of paper memories.

Clockwise from top left:  Girl with a Magic Fruit Papercut Print from Elsita; Leather Heart Necklace from Katie Q; Friends Holding Heart Mandala from Emerlye Arts Kirigami; Mexican-style Tunic from Spun

Clockwise from top left:  Tortoise Print from Sharon Montrose; Topographical Anatomical Heart Original Art from Kim Hamblin; Floral Print Pillow Shams from Plum Pretty Sugar; Paper Doll from The Black Apple

The Book Shop

The Book Shop: Obsolete

“Another Book Shop post?” you say.  “What fun!” you say.   You’re too kind.  With this new installment, we’re bringing you a little gem from Anna Jane Grossman.  Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By is an amusing look at technologies and practices that are outdated and defunct (or quickly getting there) with over 100 subjects from answering machines to wrinkles.  With entries ranging in length from a few sentences to a few pages and quirky pen-and-ink drawings from James Gulliver Hancock, the book offers bite sized quips that are perfect for a few minutes of happy diversion, nostalgic reflection and hearty chuckles.  Grossman is careful not to preach or over-romanticize, but there are certainly a few things I’m sad to see go (e.g. writing letters, Polaroids, body hair) and a few things I’m not (e.g. manual car windows, lickable stamps, “Miss” and Mrs.”).

A few of my favorite entries:

PERCOLATORS: Coffeemakers that pushed boiling water up through a cylinder into a chamber of coffee grounds, producing a brew that smelled better than it tasted and was imbibed from cups that were referred to using the English words “small” and “large”.

LIGHTHOUSES: Structures that emmitted beams of light to signal sea vessels.  Once largely manned by monks who wouldn’t have complained about living in a five-story walk-up…  Also a staple of the collectible figurine market.

ANONYMITY: Living an existence that warranted only two status updates; three, if you got married.

LANDLINES: Magnasonic Telephone from Hindsvik

CURSIVE WRITING: “A form of writing that involved making letters touch each other.  Largely impossible for small children to read; adults fared better, but only slightly.”  Cursive Letter Ring from Silvermade Studio

BLIND DATES: Bad Blind Date Card from GemmaBear

PENNIES: “Coins representing one hundredth of an American dollar, once used for purchasing candy, now used decoratively in jars.”  Wheat Penny Cufflinks from David Gieske

TYPEWRITERS: Vintage Olivetti Typewriter from StilettoGirl Vintage

GETTING LOST: Vintage Cartographic Map T-shirt from Isotope

MILKMEN: “Professionals who delivered dairy products, mostly milk, which came in reusable glass bottles that were not printed with information regarding pasteurization, presence of hormones, additives, calories, vitamin content, or missing children; usually were men accustomed to fielding winking comments about how much they resembled their clients’ children…”  Vintage Milk Bottle Holder w/ Bottles from Our Retro Toybox

POLAROIDS: “Instant memories, squared.”  Vintage Cameras Photo Blocks from Susannah Tucker

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The Book Shop

The Book Shop: The Blue Tattoo

Olive Oatman was just thirteen when Yavapai Indians slaughtered her pioneer family, captured her and forced her to live as their slave.  She survived a year of abuse and constant fear until being traded to a Mohave tribe, who tattooed her face and arms and raised her as one of their own.  This tale alone makes for a riveting read, but Margot Mifflin’s The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman offers far more than an historical recounting of one girl’s traumatic life.  From the gory moments of her family’s massacre and frightening year of slavery to the beautiful descriptions of the handsome, athletic Mohave and her life as a “savage,” this story is both thrilling and emotionally stirring.  My favorite parts of Mifflin’s book, though, delved into Olive’s psychological journey as she tried to reassemble the pieces of her fractured identity.  As one of my favorite reads of ’09, this stellar book has inspired a new feature of mine on the Westervin blog — The Book Shop, wherein I recommend a good book to you, my faithful reader, and piece together a fun collection of online finds inspired by said book for your viewing pleasure.  Ready?

Clockwise from top left: The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman; Lark Kimono from Spool No. 72; Style Showdown Boots from ModCloth; Arrow Earrings from Beatrice Collection

Clockwise from top left: Zapotec Indian Table Runner from Mission Del Ray; On the Radio Dress from ModCloth; Vintage Floor Lamp from Jayson Home & Garden; Mociun Coat from Beklina;

The Book Shop: The Blue Tattoo

Clockwise from top left: Indian Head Cuff-links from Whimsical Bazaar; Indian Chief Leather Vest from Big Brother Vintage; Free Original Drawing from Milkylane; Chief Joe Jacquard Shorts from Native(X)

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