I have watched several interviews with older musicians discussing their affinity for vinyl records. The factor that consistently came up interview after interview is that vinyl records provide something physical to engage with while the music filled the listeners’ ears. This connection between the material and the immaterial seemed quite foreign to me. In fact, the closest physical experience I have with the music I listen too is the clamping of a pair of headphones on to my ears. And yet, as I read Amaranth Borsuk’s The Book, it became clear to me that this connection is unique a part of the book’s being. She writes:
“…the chosen material formed part of the fabric of existence for its users and likely shaped not only how information was transmitted but also the very nature of thought itself (pg. 34).”
How ironic that what the vinyl-lover seeks out so fervently could be utterly ignored by someone who claims to appreciate books. When I was handed my copy of Jeannine Marie Pitas’s translation of Romina Freschi’s Echo of the Park, I immediately opened it. Joyfully, I glossed right over the cover, ignored its subtle weight, and barely acknowledged the smooth matte finish. What I wanted wasn’t material; instead, I wholly yearned for the ideas and the concepts hidden inside.
Until recently, this is how I continued through Echo, negligent of the “ubiquitous structure (pg. 36)” I held in my very hands. Now, I won’t go as far as to claim my view of the book has been forever changed, but as I held Echo, I could feel that weight timidly tug at my forearms. The matte finish evoked feelings of books I’ve held before, and the spine, thinner than what usually lines my shelves, strained. It was as if it was challenging me to a strength contest, that I was going to need to work for the contents it encased.
Visually, Echo‘s rustic color palate conjures up imagines of Statue of Liberty, or of an archaic park bench. Coupled with the title’s acknowledgement of the resonance of the past, and the cover’s smooth, familiar texture, it seems to communicate that the past will always be relevant in one’s life. The cover’s art also contributes to this notion; orderly lines remind the reader well-laid bricks, now contorted, and on the verge of being consumed or transformed by a neutral entity crawling up the cover.
Caught somewhere in the middle of this transformation, I now perceive the artifact known as the book is uniquely equipped to bind together the physical and the mental, the material and the immaterial, the real and the imaginary.
Borsuk, Amaranth. “The Book.” Cambridge, Massachusetts. The MIT Press. 2018.
Freschi, Romina. Pitas, Jeannine Marie. “Echo of the Park.” 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe PA 15650. Eulalia Books. 2019.