I first got Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country out from my local library a year or so ago, but I wasn’t able to get very far before it was due back. I had nearly forgotten about the book when I ran across it in an airport bookshop last month.
Ruff is a talented and engaging writer, but I liked the concept of this book better than the execution. The story and characters are all interesting, but I found it to be a rather disjointed tale, especially through the middle third. Ruff manages to pull all of the various threads back together at the end, but it is a long time coming.
Should you find yourself in a Japanese city, spend time not on the Starbucks- and McDonald’s-lined boulevards but on the back streets that wind in all directions behind them. Or better yet, head into the back alleys branching off those streets, those half-hidden spaces that offer the most evocative glimpses of life in urban Japan by far. Only there can you find passage into the wonderfully idiosyncratic businesses tucked into the corners of the city, from bars and restaurants to coffee shops and of course bookstores. Those bookstores have long occupied Japan’s back alleys, but now an artist by the name of Monde has brought the back alleys onto bookshelves.
Monde’s handcrafted wooden bookend dioramas, which you can see on his Twitter feed as well as in a Buzzfeed Japan article about them, replicate the back alleys of his hometown of Tokyo. They do it in miniature, and down to the smallest detail — even the electric lights that illuminate the real thing at night.
Scaled to the height of not just a book but a small Japanese paperback, the likes of which fill those back-alley bookstores from floor to ceiling, they’re designed to slot right into bookshelves, providing a welcoming street scene to those browsing through their own or others’ volumes in the same way that the actual alleys they model come as a pleasant surprise to passersby on the main streets.
I have run across a few links to this post today—it seems like a really neat idea.
I have never been to Tokyo, but it has gotten me thinking about what other scenes one could create. I am not terribly crafty in this way, and certainly couldn’t replicate this guy’s level of detail and creativity, but the idea of populating my bookshelves with little scenes has me intrigued.
This method is a sure bet to have one or both of the kids to wake up in about three minutes.
Every time over the last few years that I have tried branching our from the 1917, I have regretted it. For the combination of price, quality paper, and number of sheets, it is really hard to beat.