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Paper: An Elegy Hardcover – May 14, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Sansom's take on Paper is genius. It holds together as a witty and fascinating one-sided conversation that you can't put down--my reading was delayed because I constantly had to send quotes to friends via cellphone. And, our author cites to an astonishing number of books, thereby making the argument that one cannot be an expert on paper without also being an expert on the highest use of paper, books. The citations are not necessarily backing up scholarly points--they are presented as one would present a favorite book to a good friend. In fact, the bibliography cites to over 250 books (I stopped counting somewhere in chapter 5 because, after all, this is just a review). How many books describe themselves as well as the contents of their drafts?Read more ›
Ian Sansom describes this book as a paper "museum", covering a little bit of everything. There's a chapter that describes the many various methods of manufacturing paper, and another that discusses the use of paper in art both as a surface, as in painting, and as the medium itself, as in origami. One chapter looks at the way paper has been used in packaging and consumer goods. There's even a chapter to consider how paper has changed the way we think. There is a lot of information here - too much, I'm afraid. All topics are touched on lightly before the author flutters on to the next thought, leading to a book that ultimately dabbles in many things. It feels scattered and disorganized. I constantly found myself wanting more, and feeling frustrated because instead of details I was being pushed along to the next exhibit.
"Paper: An Elegy" was far too rambling for my tastes. Each chapter floated rather independently of the others. Yes, everything is themed around paper, but the subject by itself just didn't seem strong enough to unify this into a whole book. The subject matter - rather ironically - would work better as a series of short posts on a paper-themed blog than as a unified book.
Books – both printed and hand written are discussed as is paper money, which has been around a lot longer than you might think. Labels and packaging are explored by way of Charles Dickens and his job in a blacking factory and Nick Drake provides the title for the final chapter ‘Five Leaves Left’. Origami merits a chapter to itself – anyone remember Robert Harbin and his fascinating children’s programmes? Paper’s use in art is explored not just as the surface to which paint is applied but also to make three dimensional models.
The book is beautifully produced and designed. It has a comprehensive bibliography for those who would like to see the sources of the information contained in the book and there is an index.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One reason (of several) that I never pay attention to predictions by digital mavens is that they were so stridently wrong about paper. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Harry Eagar
I found this book to be easy to read, and quite humorous in its reflection on the history and uses of paper. Read morePublished on January 20, 2014 by msgrmike