Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Invisible Forms

"Curiouser and curiouser", said Alice and that was my initial response to this unique book. Written by Kevin Jackson, a writer and traveler and somewhat of a mystery, Invisible Forms: A Guide to Literary Curiosities is a book about books. It is specifically about the 'other', the 'invisible' forms or parts of almost every book that are there "in plain sight"; ignored or assumed away when considering the book, but not by Kevin Jackson. He discusses dedications, titles, epigraphs, footnotes, prefaces, afterwords, indexes and even the imaginary: imaginary books and authors. Marginalia is not left out in this delightful compendium of useful and whimsical knowledge and trivia. The epigraphs for the book are worth considering:

There are books in which the footnotes, or the comments scrawled by some reader's hand in the margin, are more interesting than the text. The world is one of those books. (George Santayana, Realms of Being)

Some of the means I use are trivial - and some are quadrivial. (James Joyce, responding to accusations of triviality)

The contents of Invisible Forms exist in that realm somewhere between the trivial and the whole world. It is an interesting place, one that invites the reader in for a dip now and then. Watch out that you are not engulfed by the world of Invisible Forms.

Invisible Forms: A Guide to Literary Curiosities by Kevin Jackson. St. Martin's Press, New York. 2000.

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