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Books are, to those of us who live and breathe them, all but sentient fellow beings. When a book is closed, it is asleep. Perhaps dreaming, inspired by its reposing words and images. But when a book is opened, it awakens, vaults to life, and interacts with the reader, collapsing time and bridging space. Even the most modest book is by far the finest transportation device ever invented and can carry its reader to every corner of the cosmos. Once closed again, however, it never fully returns to sleep but remains in the reader’s imagination.
If, as Cormac McCarthy proposed, books come from books, then the volume in your hands comes from writers who have considered the myriad ways in which that process occurs. It is a gathering of essays, poems, stories, and unclassifiable works that examine what books mean to those of us who deeply depend on them. Every book ever written, from classics and epics to personal diaries to, yes, literary journals, is something of a secular tabernacle that houses not only the history of thought but of life itself—and death. And, as readers of Speaking Volumes will quickly discover, each writer’s voice here explores the book in unexpectedly different ways. Factual memoirs are nestled beside faux histories. Translations of invented lyrics find themselves alongside narratives that investigate the origins of how writing is read and how writers come to write.
If indeed reading is a kind of writing—in that collaborative readers recreate the signifiers and images on the silent printed page as vivid, even vocal, personal imagery and meaning—Speaking Volumes might be seen as a notebook that invites meditation on just how that happens. On how daily engagement with the book enlightens daily lives.
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On Bibliomancy, Anthropodermic Bibliopegy, and The Eating Papers; or, Proust’s Porridge
The Book: Prelude, Andante Dolente, and Fantasia
On Walking On
Lone Coast Rescension
Letters Inscribed in Snow
From the Dung Beetle’s Perspective
Memo to My Muse
The "Lost" Chapter of John Jourdain
From The Book of a Thousand Deaths
The Watteau Poem
From The Book of Spells
The Childhood of the Reader
From The Lacunae
Pages from Days and Works
The Knowledge Gallery