Book Stream

Back on the Bernadette Mayer track today she asked me to: write as you think, as close as you can come to this, that is, put pen to paper and don’t stop. Experiment writing fast and writing slow.

So, having spent an hour idly browsing Pinterest, this is what came out of my head. I wondered briefly if I should attempt to give it some shape before putting it up here, but laziness got the better of me. I will, I’m sure, do something with it in future, for now though, here it is in all its messy unglory:

Colour organised books
Image from Pinterest.

There’s a trend for storing books by colour which when done well looks good but how do you locate a book? I have no idea what hue is the spine of Norman MacCaig’s Collected and would have to search every one. Maybe a catalogue would solve the problem though it would add an extra step instead of going straight to M on the shelves you’d have to go via the catalogue would this be digital little wooden boxes or a map on the wall? I like the idea of a map though it would date with every purchase or loss, every lent book that never returns, every book left on a bus or that falls apart in the bath or blows away in a gale. Every replacement with a new edition, every gift would require an amendment there’s also the trend for placing books the wrong way round, with the spines toward the back and the page edges to the front,

Backwards Books
Image via Pinterest.

this is also attractive it reminds me of Miss Haversham’s room with its dusty pale look and would at least allow an alphabetised system, invisible but there unless you were going by size too which would require mapping it’s the thought of not being able to put my hands on a book instantly that disturbs me I like to barely have to look, speed of location, I don’t want to waste minutes searching if I can help it like my spice racks above the cooker I can put my hands on cinnamon without thinking though I once put mustard seeds in my porridge because the order had been messed with which was horrible this is the problem with sharing a kitchen or even curious visitors but it’s better than being always alone alone with perfect order I’d rather have you here and glance at a spice jar than not as now books all over the place is preferable to a perfect library for one though I still fantasise about a room of my own structured just so to suit my working purposes, practice makes perfect and it would be nice to do more of it in a space just for it in a space with a book-map on the wall amended a dozen times to consider the additions orange to blue where would red go and green darks and pales would they be separated pastels on one wall primaries on another segueing through mid-tones and back round an antique kilim on painted boards a battered leather chair and footstool I’m such a cliché but it’s all been done before even mixing there isn’t a mix that hasn’t been tried somewhere out there will be a house with elements to its room I have never thought of but someone has but the rugs and battered leather with books christ you’d think I could come up with something less Edwardian though this house is Edwardian so it would at least fit and perhaps it is its ghosts directing me if I lived in a grass roofed glass fronted eco house in the mountains perhaps I’d go Jacobean or Mid-Century Modern which I love both dark neutral toned oak no hint of red or yellow and pale, also neutral, steamed birch ply its outrageous smoothness and flexible curves that so often suggest flagons which leads to vineyards and hot summers where insects barely stir in the daytime coming out to play electrically in the evening while flagons glug their contents into glasses on every table and even here a cardigan becomes necessary.

Apologies about the lack of punctuation, it must be really difficult to read if you tried at all, and I can hardly blame you if you gave up. I do think this is a pretty good way of gathering material that already lurks in one’s head. A different kind of found poetry, when it can be shaped into poems.


9 thoughts on “Book Stream

  1. Haha! I was entertained throughout! I want to try! Free association creativity. Gotta say that the words were flashing by so fast, I had to go back a few times. Then you mentioned the lack of punctuation. Yes, nodding. Time to develop your intuitive book finding skills, or clairvoyance! I’m sure there’s an app for that. 😉 Let me know if you’d like to contract a book mapper…


  2. Hey, I read the whole thing! What do you mean?!

    Books are books. They’re not wallpaper. Seems kind of disrespectful to me. I have the spins turned in on my valuable books so the sun doesn’t fade them. It’s purely functional. Not an aesthetic.


  3. Ha! You are particularly tenacious!

    I totally agree, books are not just another element of home decor, and I do find myself disturbed by the fact that so many people seem to use them as nothing more than that. There does appear to be a whole raft of people who want to fill their homes with books but never actually read them; why?


  4. I quite enjoyed this piece of writing, but I have to say I am for some reason quite appalled at the idea of storing books spine in.
    But I am a fairly ancient individual so perhaps it is an age thing.
    I shelve my books quite randomly, and never have a problem finding one.
    This is rather strange given that some mornings I struggle to find the kitchen.


    1. I think it’s probably more a reader than an age thing. There seems to be a trend for owning books for purely aesthetic reasons, and this manifestation feels like the apotheosis of that trend. It flaunts the fact that the books aren’t there to be read, which may only be a symptom of the use of such things as Kindles for actual reading, which may, in turn, point back to your original notion that it is an age thing. Now I’ve confused myself.


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