shelf 1: imaginary islands

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Monday, March 19, 2012
shelf 1

AKA, The Nick Bantock and friends shelf.  What do they have in common? All the books are illustrated, most are interactive (envelopes to open, maps to read) and there are so many imaginary islands. (if not islands, then lands or towns or institutions.) All of them - even the autobiography, I'd guess - are a conversation between the normal everyday world and a mysterious, sometimes visible other world. Most of them are romantic and ambiguous, which is a combination I enjoy in fiction. I hadn't opened any of them in years until I was preparing this post. Here's a list of titles:

The Venetian's Wife: One of my favorite Bantock books.

The Artful Dodger: a beautiful autobiography that I have looked at but not read

The Forgetting Room: I read it once and was disappointed, but honestly, who knows what I was expecting.  I was probably expecting a lot. The art is wonderful, the prose less so.

Windflower: I haven't read this -  I got it at The Title Wave, which is where the library sells its discards.

Original Griffin & Sabine trilogy: I've read it at least twice, but it's been a long time. I loved opening the envelopes, reading the letters, the general mystery of it all.

Next three G & S books, even though they don't have G & S: have not read them, but I found them at the Title Wave and they appear to have all the loose parts accounted for. I think there are now 9 books total, but I don't have the remaining 3. Yet.

Museum at Purgatory: see comments for The Forgetting Room.

The Republic of Dreams by G. Garfield Crimmins: This was a late, after-Bantock acquisition for me. I got it as a sort of escapist present to myself during dark employment times. (I wasn't employed as an evil wizard or anything, it was just a REALLY STRESSFUL job.) This book's more about a specific place (The Republic of Dreams) than about any particular relationship. TRoD is sort of like Pepperland, only with more naked people; they don't wear clothes unless they feel like it, because clothes are like, a tool of the man, man.

The Tattooed Map by Barbara Hodgson: Oh, man. I LOVED THIS BOOK. I haven't looked at it in a long time because I'm afraid I won't love it as much as I did. It's set in North Africa and I loved the collages, the old photographs, and of course the am I going crazy or is there a map appearing on my hand? storyline.

The Secrets of Pistoulet by Jana Kolpen: This one is set in France, and it's a magic realist-lite/fairy dust/ recipe book. The narrator is trying to recover from a broken heart and goes to this little town and stays at this little inn, and there are magic recipes??? (I am going from memory, here.) She cries a lot, I remember that much. In a lot of ways, this is a Gift Shop sort of book - the cover looks great and goes well with displays of rosemary infused olive oil and hand-painted pottery dishes. Looking inside the cover, it appears that I bought this used at Powells - I was going all-in on books with removable parts. It was originally a graduation gift from "Mademoiselle L"'s aunt or mom or grandma and she sold it for cash money. That sounds about right.

The Legend of The Villa della Luna by Jana Kolpen: Hey, hey! it's the sequel! More of the above, although as I recall Mademoiselle J was getting over her broken heart and glancing out of the corner of her eye at the village shepherd or cheese monger or mysterious stranger or someone like that. As I was looking at this shelf a couple of weeks ago, I remembered that this book ended on kind of a cliff-hanger so I got the last book in the series out of the library. Will she find her One True Cheese? I haven't read it yet, but I'll let you know!

This whole shelf is like a late-nineties time capsule.
2 comments on "shelf 1: imaginary islands"
  1. I feel certain you won't be disappointed with The Tattooed Map, when you return to it. I often think fondly of that book, which I read at your recommend. Want to pass it along to others...

    1. Oh, I'm so glad to hear that! I often think fondly of it, too - but I haven't reread in years. It looks like it's out of print, but still pretty widely available.


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