Ruth Laxson
Nexus Press, Atlanta, GA, 2003, English
Nonfiction, General; Nonfiction, Art and Cultural History
ISBN: 9780932526991
On 1 book list
Warren Lehrer

Divided into three parts, this stunning volume by book artist Ruth Laxson spans one hundred years of human activity (1900 to 2000). It pairs a timeline of factoids about technological innovations and historical events with a more vernacular (southern American) narrative of personal experiences and reflections. Materials used in making this book (Laxson’s first offset-printed book, I believe, after decades of letterpress printing) evoke technological shifts within the century: the text is handwritten, letterpressed, typewritten, and digitally generated; the images are hand-drawn, cut from paper, photographed, collaged, processed digitally, and printed. Text and image are nearly inseparable. A reader needs to engage the narrative whose lines can cascade, flow, collide, and disperse. It is a completely legible read—you just need to be game to traverse time and story on Laxson’s terms—a suspension I think most readers yearn for in a good book. (A similar juxtaposition of historical timeline and personal narrative shows up in Mark Z. Danielewski’s novel Only Revolutions, published four years later. His book spans 200 years, and features two narrators who remain 16 years old throughout as they progress toward each other from opposite ends of the book.)

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