Midterm Evaluation

Sorry I forgot to post this yesterday!

For this assignment I started by choosing which author’s work I’d like to try to transform. I ended up picking Donald Barthelme’s City Life partly because I’ve been reading it on and off over the course of the semester, but mainly because I knew I wanted to make an altered version of a Dos-a-Dos. His stories vary in form so I figured I had a good shot of being able to twist something of his into the Dos-a-Dos form. I decided on two of his shorter stories, “At the Tolstoy Museum” (I used this in its entirety) and “The Glass Mountain” (I only used the first few lines from this one). This worked out nicely. “At the Tolstoy Museum” is written in standard prose so this became the pamphlet side of my Dos-a-Dos and “The Glass Mountain” is written as a list so that’s the reason I chose a flag book for the second half.

My choice of typefaces isn’t all that inventive, but they function the way I intended. I used a simple sans serif (Avenir) for the stories because it compliments Barthelme’s blunt writing and I wanted it to be easy to read even though it would be small (10-point). But I’m more of a serif typeface kind of girl. That’s why I used Georgia for the title, copyright, and colophon pages. Had to get my fix, and I like the clash of the fonts. Much of this book is at odds with itself. Unfortunately, this resulted in the pages refusing to lie down nicely together. But the other contrasts work better. I like that I used the atlas pages in different ways, but that they appear on both halves. I also like that the topsy-turvy (and maybe crudely drawn) cityscape on the pamphlet cover prepares the reader for something of an unbalanced book.   Fun fact: the coordinates on the title page for “At the Tolstoy Museum” are for Moscow and the coordinates for “The Glass Mountain” are for New York City. Honestly, I can’t prove for sure that Barthelme was talking about New York there (though he does give this intersection: Thirteenth Street and Eighth Avenue) but I pictured New York while I was reading it. The coordinates are just small details, but I’m glad I thought to include them.

My book’s title is Barthe’s Cities because I didn’t want to stray too far from his book’s title. Plus it applies. These are two of the cities from City Life and they are his interpretations of them. He took two major cities and made them his own in these stories. I sort of made them mine, but I still feel they mainly belong to Barthelme–hence, Barthe’s Cities.

The next time I make any book I’ll keep in mind that one mock-up isn’t enough. I should allow myself plenty of time to make two. And the second one needs to be as close to what I was envisioning as possible. As it turns out, I have a couple of copies that are pretty miserable. I don’t feel they represent what I wanted the book to be and that’s because I didn’t take the mock-up process as seriously as I should have. Lesson learned.

I also wish I had chosen a thicker stock to work as my cover. It was easy to work with (probably the only perk) but that meant that all of my interior pages also had to be made from lighter weight paper. Well, the printer paper that was available to me was either super cheap Xerox paper, or a slightly heavier cardstock. Since I chose the cardstock, the interior is a little too heavy for the exterior to contain. I really like the cardstock and the MiTeintes paper I used for the interiors. In particular, the cardstock works well for the flag book pages. However, the book looks badly out of balance so I have to assume this is from my choice of cover paper.

I also would like more dimension on my cover. Maybe I should have included some white in the drawing. Maybe I could have tried adding a second sheet of paper with a contrasting color. Everything just looks flat. This is a funny considering the book will probably never lie flat. This brings me to my next point. The next time around I will also give myself more time for pressing the books. Can you tell that I’m annoyed at how springy the book is? I will also use a printer that isn’t Inkjet. The ink was easily smudged for about two days, resulting in my thumbprints on some of the pages. Or I can use an Inkjet printer and plan for a couple days of rest. Again with the timing. I guess that’s the largest rule for me now in regards to book-making: allow as much time as possible, almost twice as much as I would assume I need.


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