John Tang

Books and their Faces and Bodies

Posted in Sketchbook by Jt's Item Roster on May 31, 2010

Books and their Faces and Bodies

Sometimes I would walk into a book store and pull a book off the shelf, grow interested with the dents on the cover, in the pages, more than tale itself. Tonight I was in midst of listening to John Krasinski’s monologue. All my books were cluttered on the side of the laptop, while also on my lap was Chekhov’s plays. Strangely I was attached to theater, and I saw on the shelf over my head was A Playwright’s Guidebook by Stuart Spencer. I opened to a list of playwrights Stuart suggested. Conveniently I sought for Chekhov at the same instant, as I put the book back on the shelf blindly, searching and understanding place through touch.

As so, I had the guidebook on the top of more books, but it felt unbalanced. I pushed it more inside until the flat face settled. Without knowing, the book slipped off a small lyric book and fell behind the shelf and desk, where, as the pages were open, the book was caught on the X-metal frame.  Inside the mouth of the book, the bar had dented the page as well as the spine, leaving both misaligned and irreparable. This reminded me of one time I opened a book and the head of every page was sliced—a jagged slice—two-hundred pages deep. I wondered what had occurred at the printing press.

Perhaps every product came out perfect like nature, its birth. Only in time would the Thing itself change. When intrigued by a story, I would crease the corner of the page and draw star beside the passage. Sometimes I might annotate, seldom though, if it impeded the readership. How the marks revealed the time in ownership. Before, during my undergraduate years, I struggled in keeping my novel in neat conditions, as if they might gain monetary value over time—and these were contemporary novels and their translations. As of now, none has survived. Somehow a page had a crease on the bottom, as I shoved it in my backpack. Or as I exhumed them from a cardboard box, the wings of the page—if not bound tightly—would crease against the wall and fold somewhere, either the edge or the corner, brushing off another book or the brown walls of card.  Since I often cannot afford hardback books, nor can I afford an e-book, I guess there is nowhere my face and presence can ever hide in my library.



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