The other day I was trolling some neighborhood thrift stores in the hopes of finding a taffeta bridesmaid dress, because, well, when you write a book with a name like Terror in Taffeta, you start to get some funny ideas in your head.
Anyway, St. Vincent De Paul’s had created an—I don’t know what you’d call it. Art installation? Wall collage? Fire hazard?—using a bunch of old books attached to a wall. I snapped a picture so I could add it to my list of projects that I totally mean to do but won’t ever get around to doing.
Then, the next day, I ran across a picture of a tunnel built out of books at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles—part of the upstairs labyrinth where you can pick up several thousand books for a dollar apiece. A book entitled Genius caught my eye, and I immediately started thinking, “What if you’re the dude who wrote that book and you see your book there, just another brick in the tunnel?” The hours he must have spent writing it! The hopes and dreams!
With my debut novel less than one month old, I can’t help but think about what will become of it a year from now, ten years, twenty. Will I see copies of it in a thrift store? Will it be part of a book tunnel somewhere? Will a copy be used to prop up furniture, like I discovered some poor book doing under the bed on my last vacation? (To make matters worse, they’d torn the cover off to make it just the right height.)
I took a class once called Altered Books, in which we took old books and turned them into—well, I was going to say works of art, but our attempts were more like feeble craft projects. Some people in the class felt squeamish about cutting, painting and bedazzling otherwise perfectly respectable books. But I loved the idea of turning an old, discarded book into something new and giving it a new purpose in life.
And I still do, even now that one of those future discarded books may be my own.
If I could choose a second chapter for my first editions, I think being turned into a circulation desk at a library would be a noble cause, like this amazing piece of literary furniture that welcomes patrons to the Delft Library of Architecture:
It would be an honor to find my book incorporated into one of these amazing collages by Ekaterina Panikanova:
Or part of the Flying Bookcase at The Last Bookstore:
Or even used as a sketchpad, like this:
Art begets art. Nothing lasts forever. And inspiration can come from just about anywhere.
Marla Cooper is the author of Terror in Taffeta, a humorous mystery the author hopes will never be used to prop up a bed. Unless it makes the bed more stable and ends up saving someone’s life. In which case she guesses that’s okay. Learn more at www.marla-cooper.com.