Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance, edited by Joshua Glenn & Carol Hayes

One day I got a bug in my butt about Lynn Peril, former zinester and writer of postcards to teenage me. I wanted to see what she was doing, if she had written any other books besides Pink Think; I wanted to get another piece of her as an adult. When this book came up in a search I felt like it would fulfill my craving for some good old zine-like autobio and maybe have some nice pictures too.

It has been months since I read this thing and only on object stayed with me: Lisa Crystal Carver’s sand-filled glass clown, a happiness charm from her ex-husband Boyd Rice. Their connection is not mentioned, but she does mention that she doesn’t like him (or the attributes of the clown). Somehow all that crappiness adds up to hope that one day she the charm will work. I have always loved this zine queen’s writing, even when I don’t agree, and her life story is really amazing. Her object is so ridiculous and her take on it so loaded—I guess that’s why I haven’t forgotten it.

The introductory essay reads academic with a whiff of book proposal. While the ideas are important and otherwise interesting, somehow it fell flat and seemed more like a justification for the pages that follow instead of a signpost to them.

The rest of the book includes objects of other stars of the underground, as well as a bunch of people who grew up or lived in Boston. Most of their stories are boring or similar—it’s the snapshots that really carry this book. Somehow, when transferred to the creamy pages of a Princeton Architectural Press book, these underdone personal stories just don’t carry the weight they would in a stapled n Xeroxed format. I guess knowing that the person who is telling the story also labored over the container was what really made it all come together.

I’ll keep this around for awhile, but I doubt it will become an object I need to have (like my Tales of Poe or I Wish I Was Sick) because it only points to the stacks of smeary paper I remember and love.

PS- Lynn Peril’s object was a scrapbook of pages torn out of 60s magazines that her now-husband gave her. Not exactly "unexpected" in her case!

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