More Fun with Text


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An homage and a follow-up to a presentation originally posted to the Penguin blog

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More Fun with Text

  1. 1. This presentation is not exactly an original idea.
  2. 2. In fact, I totally stole this whole concept from from the Penguin Blog. Shhhhhhh.
  3. 3. Please, see the inspiration @: It is much better than this rip off.
  4. 4. Like the original, presentation, I will be presenting five books that I think make interesting use of type. These books do not necessarily make the best use of type, like, EVER. I did have each conveniently on hand though. Even though I count them down in reverse order, their position in the countdown is more or less arbitrary.
  5. 5. #5
  6. 7. Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was derided in some quarters for its use of typographic elements and photographs. Not here. No way. Check out this page in which the half-heard conversation between a boy’s mother and a psychologist is shown on the left. On the right is an image from 9/11 that is burned into the boy’s brain. His father died in the attack.
  7. 9. Later, when an elderly man begins to write an account of a story that he’s never told, the story becomes more intense and painful and comes out on his notepad like this:
  8. 11. #4
  9. 13. In Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief , a German girl is taught to read and write by a Jewish man that her adoptive family is hiding in the basement. Since paper is at a premium, they use pages from one book that is readily available – Mein Kampf . They whitewash the pages and hang them up to dry. Then they write their own story. They’re not just sticking it to the man, they’re sticking it to Hitler. You can see the Fuhrer’s text bleeding through their pages.
  10. 15. #3
  11. 17. Mark Z. Danielewski should receive a lifetime achievement award for interesting use of text in his novels. In House of Leaves , Danielewski’s presents three narratives that are often written on the same page. The narratives each use a different font and formatting style to be easily distinguished. The book also makes extensive use of footnotes. In this example, the footnote on the bottom left has been redacted. Awesome.
  12. 19. I honestly don’t remember what’s happening on these next pages. You can see a variety of text styles and margins, text boxes outlined in blue,vertical text, footnotes, etc. Danielewski is a mad man. In a good way.
  13. 21. #2
  14. 23. Danielewski outdid himself with Only Revolutions . Revolutions contains two narratives - told in different directions. There’s a lot going on in the following pages. The main text, written in free verse, tells one person’s story. Turn the page upside down, and the other person’s story is told in the opposite direction – also in free verse. The book is a circle. The circles on each page contain two page numbers, one for each direction. The text in the margins provide historical and cultural touchstones that act as a sort of timeline for the book. You could easily spend weeks reading this book. Someone, somewhere, is writing a master’s thesis as we speak.
  15. 25. #1
  16. 27. I am a big fan of Steven Hall’s The Raw Shark Texts . In the novel, Eric Sanderson is pursued by a conceptual shark, a Ludovician , which manifests itself through text. When Eric sees the shark, swimming beneath a checkerboard tile floor, it looks like this:
  17. 29. As the tension builds late in the novel, the author uses a flipbook style to illustrate the approach of the menacing text-based shark to outstanding effect. Here we see the Ludovician , made entirely of text elements, approaching from the depths:
  18. 31. Some people have a violent dislike for unusual type in fiction, calling it precious, twee, gimmick-y, etc. More for me, I guess. Thanks for clicking through. Tim Baby Got Books