Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories (vol. 1), is just that. It's not hard to explain, it doesn't take more than a few minutes to read through, but this book is so special in so many ways, that's the part that may be difficult to explain.

First off, the book is edited by actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, famous for films like 10 Things I Hate About You, Inception, and 50/50. And let's not forget the TV show Third Rock from the Sun! He also runs a really interesting website, It's a collaborative community where musicians, artists, writers, and other artsy types come together and "make stuff." They also split profits on their products and creations 50/50 with the contributors.
In short (har!), The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories is a short (88 pages or so) collection of 31 "stories." The stories are bite-size...sometimes no more than a line or two, but what happens in those line and in the interplay between words and images is MAGIC.

This book was a winner for me in several ways, touching on nostalgia and an interest in visual storytelling and collaborative storytelling. The cover itself is a hit with me, touching on a deep-rooted nostalgia. When I was little, maybe 5 or 6 years old, my aunt bestowed upon me a copy of a small children's story book from the early 1900s. It was a Christmas book and the cover looked much like this one: a simple drawing with the image embedded in the hard cover. Just the feel of this little tiny book in my hands takes me back to those days and that early love of reading.

When I dug into the stories themselves, I found myself transported again. This time to graduate school and a blooming love of visual storytelling in a minute amount of space and few words. A prime example is Postsecret and the books that have resulted from that project. If you're not familiar, it started as a community art project. Individuals from around the world write a secret on a postcard and some of them are posted on the website. I was struck from the first day I read Postsecret by the brutal honesty in many of the cards and the impact just a few words can make.

Additionally, I was taken back to my blooming love of graphic narrative that began shortly before graduate school. While I was taking courses I was introduced to the work of Julie Doucet, a Canadian comics artist (formerly underground). Specifically, this book reminds me of her woooonderful book, Long Time Relationship. Split into six chapters, each is a narrative of its own, even if it's just a collection of hand-drawn portraits. It was like putting snippets of life together and seeing how they all mixed up and came together. At first it seemed random, but it eventually came together beautifully.

My experience with The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories was so very similar to these previous experiences, it reminded me and made me wonder WHY I haven't been reading more like this. Maybe there just isn't as much available as I'd like. Some of the stories were cute or pleasing enough, but others were humorous, and ironic, and some knocked me flat with the truth of them.

Click to view larger versions.

These were two of my favorites: the top has a touch of "The Story of an Hour" to it and the bottom one was just wonderfully, comically morbid.

I feel sort of guilty describing this book in terms of other books, but that's what this tiny volume did for me. It took me back to a couple of different times in my life (both of which were GREAT times to revisit), but it also gave me fresh stories and delivered them in a way I hadn't experienced in a long while.

I'm extremely pleased to report that this is the first in a three-volume set of Tiny Books. You can rest assured I will collect every stinkin'-adorable, sassy one of them for my book stash.

Snuggle (with big, squishy cheek pinching) -- Skewer

Pub. Date: December 2011
Publisher: It Books (an imprint of HarperCollins)
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0062121669
Source: It Books/HarperCollins sent along a copy for review.

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