This is a perfect book to very slowly make your way through over a period of months. Like my usual reading material of poetry (or short non-fiction), the lyrics make brief, impressive reading, matched by the 'attendant' content, which is nothing short of brilliant. Sondheim has been working at the very top of the art world for what must be sixty years, and you don't go through that without picking up some essential wisdom. Everything he says is to be picked apart, savoured and considered, and is relevant to people working in all areas of art, not just musical theatre. I may never finish this book - and I mean that as a compliment. I'll probably just start again at the beginning.
Three books that have influenced me, as a publisher:
Leaving the content aside (for today), the production of this book was a big influence on me. It felt important, monolithic even, like the book could appear in the opening sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is due to the paper, the cover, the font, the typesetting - everything. It really is a work of typesetting genius - no poem is stretched or distorted, and they are able to jump from obscure German calligraphy to small caps in the middle of a poem without causing any distress.
In the last few months, I have acquired the font used in this book (Adobe Minion)... and the strange thing is, it appeared on my computer one day without explanation or announcement. I have, however, chosen not to investigate this, and to test it out on John Wedgwood Clarke's new collection, launched the day before our Wakefield Lit Fest event.
My Tony Harrison book is signed by the author; unfortunately me and Phil didn't have a crossover period, but I did managed to get this signed by Jean Hartley, whose Marvell Press insignia is all over it - her story is a constant reminder that small-press poetry publishing can make a lasting difference, and (occasionally) does count/matter in the grand scheme of things.
a marriage, and the sheer attention to detail (and beautiful illustrations) within this slim volume are very much responsible for that.
According to anecdotal evidence, I've been studying book design (and copying it on old exercise books) since I was six years old - so you can see how far gone I am down the road to publishing obsession, with no sign of turning back. Luckily for you, the readers, I suppose!
The VP event at Wakefield will take place at The Orangery, 4-6pm on Sunday 29th September, and feature readings from Kate Fox, Adam Strickson, Paul Sutherland, Sue Wilsea, Tony Howson, James Nash, Miles Salter, Helen Burke, Norah Hanson and Mike Di Placido. See you there!