Friday, January 14, 2005

Thomas Wharton, The Logogryph: A Bibliography of Imaginary Books, 2004.

Wharton's The Logogryph is the closest book I've ever read to the book I want to write.

In fragments, Wharton describes both a vast number of imagined books and the experience of reading them. He depicts the reading of stone books, of books written in three dimensions in ink underwater, of book constructions in landscapes, of books written solely to capture stories that exist only in oral form...

More importantly, Wharton describes experiences of reading--rapture, total absorption, distractedness, disinterested-ness, and everything in between--in terms of the soul and of the body as readers respond to texts.

All of this is done within the loose framework of a writer obsessed with a touchstone story that is the giving of stories, literally as well as metaphorically. The Logogryph is a kunstlerroman told in fragments, grasping for and after stories, with little of the development of the artist except as far as the boundless possibilities of reading exist.

The Logogryph is a beautifully made and beautifully told book; I don't think anyone who loves reading can fail to be absorbed by what it describes, or to be moved by Wharton's exploration of reading.