There was a minor book avalanche here last weekend. I removed one from its tower, which reacted by toppling unstoppably against its neighbour, and so on, with results that need hardly be described at length. Luckily there were no casualties: no toes crushed or book spines broken, just a torn cover getting torn some more. I took the hint and arranged them more stably. (And yes, I need a new bookshelf, or a dozen.)
The incident prompted me to carry out a modest plan that had just taken seed. A little earlier I had come across Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books project and immediately wanted to try it. The tangling of titles, the limitless possibilities of ‘found form’ and cut-up wordplay — as a game it was irresistible. I took photos of a few, and have written them as mini-poems for ease of reading and to see how they appear in verse:
How it is
How it is, the way that I went
Into the wild ancient world
Where the wasteland ends.
Chew on this moondust –
Good enough to eat.
Soft toys faking it,
Passing for human;
A peculiar people.
The man in the high castle
In the forest this side of paradise
Dreams on growth and form
In the season of the daisies.
Man’s search for meaning in the Freud archives —
How late it was,
Genius shifts the moment of truth
From the inside.
Madmen fish for Friday lamb
Five miles from outer hope.
What is history?
What is history?
A liar’s autobiography,
The riddle of the sands,
Tales of power — horror stories —
The wrath of nations, cannibals and kings,
Mighty heroes killing for culture
Burning in water drowning in flame,
Other lives, unfinished tales,
Stupid white men amusing ourselves to death.
If anyone cares to join in the fun, let me know in a comment, through a link to this post, or by email. Thank you to Nina Katchadourian and to the featured authors and editors:
Samuel Beckett, Robert Lloyd Praeger, Jon Krakauer, Betty Radice, and Theodore Roszak (How it is); Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson, Andrew Smith, and Maureen Tatlow (Moondust); Phyllis Chappell, Digby Anderson and Peter Mullen, Jody Scott, and Hugh Leonard (Faking it); Philip K. Dick, Edna O’Brien, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Carl Jung, D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, and Tom Phelan (Castle dreams); Viktor Frankl, Janet Malcolm, and James Kelman (How late); James Gleick, Adam Thorpe, Ladislaus Boros, Tony Flannery, Roy Porter, Frank O’Connor, Bernard Mac Laverty, and Nicola Barker (Inside outer); E.H. Carr, Graham Chapman, Erskine Childers, Carlos Castaneda, Herbert van Thal, William Pfaff, Marvin Harris, David Kerekes and David Slater, Charles Bukowski, Peter Bagge, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jorge Luis Borges, David Lodge, Michael Moore, and Neil Postman (What is history?).
The Outer Hoard: Bookmash!
zompist bboard members: Bookmash game
Terminologia etc.: Poesie del dorso
Chris Galvin: Book Spine Poetry
Further examples are linked from subsequent bookmash posts.