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A Life In Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley Hardcover – October 29, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Goff Books (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193962102X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939621023
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #573,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

WINNER 2014 IPPY (Independent Publisher) Outstanding Book of the Year Award for Most Original Concept
“A stunningly unique take on the novel that unabashedly explores the relationship between the narrator and reader, as well as the fragile and often blurry line that distinguishes truth and fiction. With A Life in Books, Lehrer has upended the modern novel form and its narrative limitations, creating a rich and engaging story through visual literature. Mindblowing... reality bending... a laugh riot and visual feast.”

WINNER Print Magazine Regional Design Award
WINNER Next Generation Indie Book Award
WINNER National Indie Book Award
WINNER CBAA Exhibition Prize

"In A Life In Books, Warren Lehrer has written a profound commentary on this nausea-inducing unique moment in the grand transition from Silly Mind to Machine Mind. Amusingly and smartly enough, he may have helped transition 'the last great American novel' to the first 'great illustrated novel' which is how novels started. A Life In Books is brilliant, beautiful, delicious for eyes and mind.”
Andrei Codrescu, public radio commentator, editor Exquisite Corpse, novelist, poet

"In Warren Lehrer’s ingenious, one-of-a-kind novel, A Life In Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, we see all the covers of all 101 books supposedly written by the narrator over the last several decades... A tour-de-force!" Kurt Andersen, Studio 360

"For anyone who has ever resisted judging a book by its cover, now's your chance: In A Life In Books, author and graphic design visionary Warren Lehrer crafts a vivid kaleidoscopic odyssey that frames one man's life through not one, but one hundred different books—and book jackets. In this quirky, yet unmistakably modern evocation of the illuminated manuscript, Lehrer's book reminds us that we are what we do. And, for that matter, what we publish."
Jessica Helfand, founding editor Design Observer, graphic designer, writer, educator

“A meticulously illustrated chronicle… Lehrer’s 101 cover designs for Mobley’s books are pitch perfect. And like the best film title sequences, which establish moods or introduce plotlines, these fictional covers are vehicles by which Lehrer illuminates Mobley’s tale of success and failure. By no means a portfolio; Lehrer has created a parallel art world.” Steven Heller, The Atlantic

"A tour de force of graphic design, illustration and writing. Exploiting a wide range of illustration styles to delight the eye, Lehrer offers a funny, thought-provoking and refreshing twist on the graphic novel… Guaranteed to bring a smile."
Ken Carbone, The Huffington Post

“A Life In Books is a book-lover’s fictional treat of books that never were. At first when we look at this extraordinary book, it looks like it’s going to be a funny book, with crazy, zany events. But A Life In Books is ultimately about how the sadness of life is transformed into art. The book is about survival, and how life requires constant adjustment, constant compromise, and the will to find the funny line at which you won’t compromise… As Whitman said, ‘I contain multitudes,’ and Bleu Mobley contains 101 books. Wonderful!”
Michael Silverblatt, Bookworm, KCRW

“Warren Lehrer has spent a decade writing and designing a book that is way more than a book. A blend of writing and design, which extends to performance art… A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley is a typographical and design tour de force.”
Ellen Shapiro, Print Magazine

"A Life In Books challenges readers to rethink the relations of the novel to the image, and of the whole book to our contemporary world... In it, Lehrer continues to make design a constitutive element of his writing, telling the story of the fictional author Bleu Mobley through book covers, fonts, supporting documents, illustrations, and a series of concepts for innovative books... While Mobley's early books are aggressively experimental, his prodigious output spawns bestsellers... thus Mobley becomes something of a microcosm of the commercial publishing industry, its aesthetic and its flaws. In many ways, A Life In Books succeeds beautifully as a hybrid between the graphic novel and the novel... and suggests new potentials for popular literary fiction to break with the older tradition of the illustrated novel by making the images take part fully in telling the story. Lehrer's book has been winning awards and warm reviews almost everywhere, strongly suggesting that his innovative novel is finding its audience."
David Banash, Eye Magazine

"Warren Lehrer's novel A Life In Books is a masterpiece of visual storytelling, boldly integrating illustration and typography into its engaging story."
David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy

“In A Life in Books, Lehrer has designed a sort of Chinese puzzle whose myriad ideas, stories and characters—from all parts of the globe—intersect, overlap, and dovetail… [It is] a tale of growing up, marriage, fatherhood, physical incapacity, healing, poverty, financial success, incarceration, and continuous self-reflection. Lehrer is adept at representing our multicultural society, which for him means not a sociological construct but the lives and struggles of real people. Like Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, and Ben Katchor, Lehrer participates in the search for fresh and innovative ways to show, as well as tell, his many stories. Astonishing.” Robert Berlind, The Brooklyn Rail

“In the era of cookie-cutter books and rubber-stamped stories, Warren Lehrer’s A Life In Books is fresh, original, idiosyncratic, beautiful, and important.”
Rabih Alameddine, novelist and painter, author of Koolaids, I, the Divine, The Perv, Hakawati

“Warren Lehrer’s invented bibliography is a brilliant, ambitious, and compelling novel… A bold work of the imagination, A Life In Books is an “illuminated novel,” in the sense of Mobley’s memoir being lit up by a retrospective monograph of his work, and so many visual touches that make dipping into the book so much fun. The essential backstory turns out to be about what the future holds for books as material objects. I truly hope this audacious novel gets the attention it so richly deserves.” Nicholas Basbanes, Fine Books & Collections

“Warren Lehrer is witty, ingenious, sly, serious, a graphic wizard and literary innovator. His crazily ambitious illuminated novel uses art and artifice to test our assumptions about how life is supposed to be in modern America… So much more than a book, A Life In Books is an experience… at once revealing and mysterious, a commentary on ego, celebrity and American society… It plays like literary jazz: Lehrer’s fingers pumping up and down on the keys, laying down pungent notes, sparkling phrases, lilting tunes about who we are and where we are going.”
Dan Bailes, The Vision Thing

"A Life in Books: The Rise & Fall of Blue Mobley, a gorgeously produced multi-color “novel,” is a brilliant meditation on the state of publishing in the 21st Century. What is truth? What is fiction? Who is “me,” am I my nom de plume, and how can I turn us into a franchise… or maybe even into two?! By the time you reach page 330 with pictures of Bleu’s Book Lamps, you’ll be laughing through your tears... I can’t think of a better gift."
Tsiviah Huttner, Second City Tzivi

"In scope, execution and ambition, A Life In Books is an extraordinary book. Like a monk’s painstaking production of an illuminated manuscript, it took Lehrer seven years to pull off. There’s also a contest, a travelling exhibition with video, and a performance/reading tour… Lehrer’s books are like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”
Lucy Sisman, Wword

"The coolest book ever." Designers and Books

"Stories told with humor, pathos, poetry, drama and the absurd…” Brownstoner Queens

"A Life In Books is unique, incredible, affecting, meticulous, the perfect hide-and-seek game, and honestly, one of those works that seems so obvious and fertile as a structure, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been done before. Am I gushing? I just love it. This is an important book."
Stephen Farrell, design innovator, Vas An Opera In Flatland and Toc: A New Media Novel

“Writer/artist Warren Lehrer is a pioneer in the art of the book. His most recent funny and beautiful novel helps expand the possibilities of the book format as a way to tell stories."
Keith Shortall, Maine Things Considered, MPBN

“A Life In Books is a literary multimedia satirical romp through the last half century of publishing with all its conceits and marketing tricks from ‘Outsourcing Grandma’ to toilet paper poems and a childrens books on capital punishment ‘How Bad People Go Bye Bye.’ Wonderful!”
Edgy Lit, Selected Best Books 2013

“A Life In Books is unlike any book I’ve every read before. For anyone who loves books—ALIB is a fascinating look at the life of an author, and how the books that he has written grew out of his life experiences. You will encounter books within A Life In Books that you will wish were real books… An amazing and very beautiful book.”
Michael Kindness, Books On The Nightstand
Selected BOOKS WE CAN’T WAIT FOR YOU TO READ

"A genre-defying night that fuses art and literature, prose and design into a multi-media presentation unlike any other." Skylight Books

About the Author

Warren Lehrer is a writer, designer, and multimedia artist known as a pioneer in the fields of visual literature and design authorship. His books, acclaimed for capturing the shape of thought and reuniting the traditions of storytelling with the printed page, include: "Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a New America"; "The Portrait Series: a quartet of men" (four book suite); "GRRRHHHHH: a study of social patterns"; "French Fries; i mean you know; and versations." He has received many awards for his books and multimedia projects including: the Brendan Gill Prize, the Innovative Use of Archives Award, three AIGA Book Awards, two Type Director's Club Awards, the International Book Design Award, a Media That Matters Award, a NY Book Show Best of the Best Award, and a Prix Arts Electronica Award. He's received fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council and Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and others. His work has been exhibited widely and is in many collections including MoMA, LA County Art Museum, The Getty Museum, Georges Pompidou Centre, and Tate Gallery. Lehrer is also a performer, and has co-written four plays, one opera, co-composed two audio CDs, and he co-produces public radio documentaries and audio works with his wife Judith Sloan. Lehrer is a professor at the School of Art+Design at Purchase College, SUNY, and a founding faculty member of the Designer As Author grad program at the School of Visual Arts. Together with Sloan, Lehrer founded EarSay, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to uncovering and portraying the lives of the uncelebrated in print, on stage, on radio, in exhibitions, electronic media, and through educational programs in public schools, community centers, and prisons.

More About the Author

Warren Lehrer is a writer and artist/designer known internationally as a pioneer in the fields of visual literature and design authorship. His work explores the vagaries and luminescence of character, the relationships between social structures and the individual, and the pathos and absurdity of life. His books, acclaimed for capturing the shape of thought and reuniting the traditions of storytelling with the printed page, include: Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a New America (W.W. Norton) with Judith Sloan,The Portrait Series: a quartet of men (four book series, Bay Press); GRRRHHHHH: a study of social patterns (Center for Editions) with Sandra Brownlee and Dennis Bernstein; FRENCH FRIES with Dennis Bernstein (Visual Studies Workshop); i mean you know (Visual Studies Workshop), and versations (EarSay).

He has received many awards for his books and projects, including the 2004 Brendan Gill Prize, the 2003 Innovative Use of Archives Award, a Media That Matters Award, three American Institute for Graphic Arts Book awards, two Type Director's Club awards, The International Book Design Award, a Best of the Best Award from the New York Book Show, and a Prix Arts Electronica award. He's received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council and Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, the Furthermore Foundation, and others. His work has been exhibited widely and is in many collections including the Museum of Modern Art, L.A. County Art Museum, The Getty Museum, Georges Pompidou Centre, and Tate Gallery. The Crossing the BLVD exhibition (co-produced with Sloan) has been to fifteen museums and galleries and continues to travel the country. Lehrer is also a performer and has co-written four plays (Social Security: the basic training of Eugene Solomon with Dennis Bernstein, Denial of the Fittest, A Tattle Tale, and The Whole K'Cufin World and a Few More Things with Judith Sloan), and co-written and co-composed one opera (The Search For IT and Other Pronouns with Harvey Goldman). He co-produces public radio documentaries and audio works with his wife Judith Sloan. Lehrer's performances and plays have been performed at many venues including La MaMa Experimental Theatre, The Public Theatre, The Knitting Factory, Independent Art at Here, The Painted Bride, the Market Theatre (Johannesberg), and the Theatre Workshop (Edinburgh).

Lehrer is a frequent lecturer and presenter at universities, art and literary centers, and book stores throughout the United States and internationally. Lehrer has been written about in scores of books and in many feature articles and reviews in print and broadcast media. His essays on design authorship and visual literature have been widely reproduced. Lehrer is a professor at the School of Art+Design at Purchase College, SUNY, and a founding faculty member of the Designer As Author graduate program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. He received his BA from Queens College, CUNY, and an MFA from Yale University. Together with Sloan, Lehrer founded EarSay, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to uncovering and portraying the lives of the uncelebrated in print, on stage, on radio, in exhibitions, electronic media, and through educational programs in public schools, prisons, and community centers. Lehrer is currently completing an illuminated novel which contains 101 books within it, entitled A Life In Books: the rise and fall of Bleu Mobley.

Customer Reviews

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This is a must-have book for anyone interested in new and original book works.
Philip Zimmermann
By the time you reach page 330 with pictures of Bleu's Book Lamps, you'll be laughing thru your tears.
Jan
In love with words, design and art, and the fusion of all, the book is full of surprises.
A. Cote

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jan on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Gorgeously produced multi-color "novel" is a brilliant meditation on the state of publishing in the 21st Century (What is truth? What is fiction? Who is "me," am I my nom de plum, & how can I turn "myself" into a franchise?!?) By the time you reach page 330 with pictures of Bleu's Book Lamps, you'll be laughing thru your tears. Somewhere in the Great Beyond, Sholem Aleichem is kvelling about this new great-grandson :-)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Robbins on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Such a cool book! It's basically prison diaries told through the books the prisoner wrote before (and while) he's in prison. But it's not like a "normal" book, because it is full of photos of each of the 101 books the prisoner wrote, so it flips between characters and voices and alter-egos and reviews and clippings and notes. You can just dip in anywhere, flip through for the pictures, or read it start to end.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm impressed with the multiple story lines, Mobley 's bio and the mechanics of this book. It's great writing and great reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Denneny on February 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A LIFE IN BOOKS is the story of a man who falls in love with print, books and publishing in high school (in the early 60s) and through his lifelong involvement traces the evolution of the publishing industry during the last half century of tumultuous change. And he does it by having his protagonist, Bleu Mobley, actually write those books and give the reader the first chapter of some 101 books (along with their covers, catalogue copy and flap copy) - an act of literary invention that calls to mind the works of Fernanado Pessoa or Orhan Pamuk's THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE. An astonishing tour de force, totally engrossing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Fassler on February 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes, we read a book or see a movie & it is almost impossible to believe that someone really wrote it, but for the fact that it was written. Bleu Mobley is one of those books! A mesmerizing & fun novel that brings us intimately into the life of Bleu Mobley & is so beautifully designed that it should remain permanently as the coffee table centerpiece, when you can finally put it down!
Lehrer is a creative genius whose 'A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley' will do what only the rare novels will do....leave you thinking about it & talking about it & buying the book for loved ones. & wanting the author to write & design & write & design ad infinitum......
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ellen W. Grabowitz on February 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is an incredible book...no forgive me, this is a work of art. The story is a page turner and the concept of including the books of the protagonist within the story is truly unique. But what is most impressive and irresistable is the book itself. Printed on museum quality paper and illustrated like an art book, its the kind of book you want to have on display in your home at all times. I have given the book as a gift as it is an item everyone I know can appreciate. Great for a book group selection or a personal library. Can't say enough to recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Philip Zimmermann on February 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A Life in Books, is the latest brilliant work by Warren Lehrer. This is a worthy follow-up to his other books, Crossing the Boulevard, French Fries and I Mean You Know. Warren Lehrer, a talented story teller, mixes text and images in unique ways that straddle the line between experimental literature and purely visual artists' books. Each of the 101 books referenced in the subtitle are imaginatively and often humorously illustrated. On page after page, Lehrer lays out his clever and often touching narrative text along with his almost chameleon-like graphic design skills. This is a must-have book for anyone interested in new and original book works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By garima thakur on March 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
A Life In Books combines the felicity of genre fiction and the fun of a graphic novel. It blurs the line between the two and forms a new genre. It moves in and out of reality and fiction. The writing is rich in detail and profound in a way that at points you will feel this has happened to you, and you know these people -- be they the characters from Bleu Mobley’s life or from his books (the two intertwine throughout).

As a designer, it is a pleasure to turn the page and find something surprising, on every page! A Life In Books wraps you in a humor that is dark and real. It finds humor inside the darkest moments of your life and gives it a new perspective.

Bleu Mobley’s book covers (there are actually more than advertised 101) form a panorama of book design history and theory. I basked in every page, enjoying Lehrer’s riffs on so many different genres, from Dada to modernist to contemporary, yet it all comes together as one person’s signature/life’s work (Mobley is said to have designed all the covers of his books, as well as many of the interiors).

Whether you are a designer or an artist or writer or just a lover of beautifully written and put together books, this book bridges art and reality, is poignant and deep while teaching you not to take it all so seriously. A must read!
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