There is a lot being written for lovers of books, the book arts, fine printing, and reading - more than can fit in between the pages of Amphora! Selected articles, not appearing in the Society's journal, are offered here. Beginning with an excerpt (click on the author's name to view the excerpt), the entire article is available for free by clicking on "Full Article."
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Frequency: From Writer to Reader is an irregular. ISSN 1911-7302
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- Belcham, Andrea. "A Welcome Abuse: Notes on Finding Community Through the Battered Book." Full Article (PDF)
- More to come!
A Welcome Abuse: Notes on Finding Community Through the Battered Book
By Andrea Belcham
Bio: Andrea Belcham lives (reads, writes, edits, studies, builds, cooks, gardens) in Pointe Claire, Quebec and is the editor of Carve magazine, which publishes the good words of Montreal area writers twice a year.
Part the first: In which the author makes a dreadful confession
I wish to declare my support for abuse.
Not the abuse of flesh, mind you, but the abuse of paper, board and leather. An abuse which, when inflicted upon these media, is not a mistreatment at all but a loving caress.
No single witnessed act prompts me to make such a declaration here, at this time. Rather, it is a collage of observed and shared-in phenomena that layer my thoughts and foster a general feeling of affection for the cheap, the tawdry and the wounded, and an abhorrence for the glossy, the clean and the virginal. Shuffling my way through the crowd at a book-arts exhibition, awaiting my turn to don the white cotton gloves (required should I wish to touch any of the fine-press books on display) - then leaving the show with only pamphlets and business cards in my tote (because that's all I can afford), and finding that someone has scattered on the benches of the building's lobby numerous well-worn books with stickers that shout, "I'm free - please take me home with you!" (I adopt a jacketless hardcover edition of The Name of the Rose)… Scanning the results of my online bookstore search for a used anthology of Dorothy Parker's short stories and being astounded by the hierarchy that emerges: how the littlest tape-mended tear designates a book as classes below its pristine cousins… Walking up to the side entrance of the Atwater Library on garbage day and being startled as I round the bushes to see a small swarm of people looking eagerly through the boxes on the lawn; slowing my pace and a woman noticing me and beckoning, book in hand, "They're just being thrown out, imagine!"… Years back, in high school, being assigned my English texts for the semester - opening each one to its first page to record my name and reviewing with curiosity those preceding mine (my inheritances constituting a detached hands-holding with the same kids who ignore me, whom I ignore, in the halls)…
Bundled together, these fractured incidents hold meaning. Read by one whose current immersion in the commercial side of the book industry overwhelms her with the seeming infinity of seasonal catalogues, of volumes and volumes shining and bright and frivolous like wax fruit in a centrepiece, these memories remind her of what she prizes about reading, about books. Such as how when books are loved they become like another limb, travelling everywhere with the reader. Or how the book's own body, just like the mind of the reader, shows the scars of this love and wears its stretch marks proudly.
I'm championing drawn-out violence, then: a masochistic relationship between reader and book that reverberates through generations...
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