This past week the work I have been doing for months to get a memorial tribute finished to my brother, who died about three years ago, is finally beginning to take physical form. After a couple years of pulling together stories about Terry from relatives and friends of his, I compiled these into a manuscript and began typesetting the book on my Linotype and Ludlow machines. With that work behind me, earlier this week I mocked up a dummy of the book and paginated it. Finally, yesterday I began the actual printing, to be followed soon by the binding work. I am using paper I made over the past couple years for the book’s text and plan to wrap the pages in hardcover boards.
For most of you, this project has no significance, but my brother meant a great deal to me and I want some way to acknowledge the role he played not only in my life but in the lives of all those he touched.
As I worked at my press, I began reflecting on the role printing plays in my life. Sure, it’s been a way to put food on the table and keep the electric bills at bay. But, in truth, it has been so much more, and never more so than when I am working on things that are deeply personal to me. When I am finished, I will have something to touch, something that is real. It won’t be a blip on an electronic screen. I’m old fashioned that way, I know. For me, there is something mystical about the power of books. My tribute to Terry won’t bring him back, but it will allow me to hold a little bit of him in my hands. Sounds crazy? Perhaps, but even before I have the finished book, I sense I am closer to him.
I don’t want to get too philosophical about this, so let me close by encouraging you to watch a video I posted in an earlier blog. It’s a humorous look at those who insist that paper has been replaced by virtual communication. I think you will enjoy it. You can find it here: http://www.letterpressbookpublishing.com/culture-vs-reality-tv/
Until later . . .
Michael, I would love to read the tribute that you are doing for your brother. There could be no more finer tribute. In penning my mother’s poetry after she died and then binding it in a book was the best way of mourning her passing, for me at least. I hold a part of her when I take that book in my hands. Thank you for this post. It was just what I needed to read this morning as I make attempts to communicate in this electronic world – holding on by a thread to that world.
Hope you’re well. John and I are both enjoying Madison immensely. It’s almost like being on vacation – taking free courses at the UW (a privilege for Wisconsin senior citizens that Walker hasn’t attacked yet). I’m presently taking a book binding course and an Asian Brush lettering course. John is immersed in William Faulkner and a History book group.
Hope to meet up with you again some time. It was always so very special to visit you in Cornie. Wishing you the VERY best.