The Bookness of Not-Books by Albert Mobilio
This article has been published in the Paris Review. It begins:
I once owned a hardback edition of Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence that had served time at the top of a bedside pile; its cover and spine had acquired several islands of melted wax from the candle it helped support. Running my fingers from the smooth dollops to the grainy fabric—an illegible but sensual braille—always afforded a small pleasure, even if the reading itself offered much less. That long-ago volume came to mind recently while holding a copy of an artist’s book by Deborah Dancy titled Winter Morning in the rare-book room of the Baltimore Museum of Art. Dancy’s slim book is made from wax-impregnated paper into which snippets of found text have been pressed. Light as wafer, the book almost hovered in my hands, and turning its stiff, deeply yellowed pages felt like exploring a precious archaeological artifact.