A Little Book of Denial

A Little Book of Denial is quite literally a little book, and its tiny size is perhaps the most telling quality on its meaning. Small as it is, it requires a little more attention—to find, to handle, to inspect—and this extra devotion makes the book feel more intimate. This sort of private character fits with the current, Western expectation of the book as an intimate space, a little world set apart from reality (Borsuk 84). A Little Book of Denial is, essentially, a private world full of “no.” Like a guilty indulgence, this little book hides its negatives in its smallness.

My accordion book, A Little Book of Denial, made of charcoal paper, cardstock, and negation. (Photos by Oli Grogan).

Funnily enough, much of the motivation for the size of A Little Book of Denial came from my hesitation to retrieve materials. There was a large roll of paper available, from which I might have procured a sizable strip of paper, but I did not want to weave my way through the classroom and stand aimlessly about waiting for the optimal moment to hastily—and no doubt clumsily—cut myself a sheet. Instead, I opted to stay at my place and tear a strip of charcoal paper from my stab-binding template (prior to that, I had been experimenting with strips of paper I tore from a notebook). I had initially had some desire to play with creating a small book, but my hesitation to intrude ultimately necessitated the tiny scale. The littleness of A Little Book of Denial is, therefore, a direct result and an explicit expression of my tendency to avoid attention—it is a sort of self-portrait.

A Little Book of Denial does not depart radically from the familiar codex form of book, but the structure does contribute to the book’s meaning. Much like a codex, the covers and the painted back of the accordion seem to contain the text in a little, private box, lending A Little Book of Denial an introversion cohesive with my self-portrait idea. However, as an accordion book, the text could be read in different ways. The “no”s could be displayed all at once, like a chorus, or perhaps a rapid repetition, or else they could be flipped through as if searching for the proper “no” for a delicate situation. It is a “sequence of spaces,” as Ulises Carrión defines a book—spaces containing the “No” we can’t always express, or the “no” we wish we could hear (Borsuk 143).

Work Cited

Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. MIT Press, 2018.

4 thoughts on “A Little Book of Denial”

  1. Your book is a lot of fun. What is interesting is that you chose to include the content on the back which makes the “no’s” expressive from them. Without the back content, a reader could interpret the denials as projected toward them. I find the book empowering for those moment of timidity.

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  2. I found the back content of your book to be really interesting, since you phrase it like a dedication, something that’s usually on one of the first few pages of books. It’s also kind of ironic that you mention “I don’t like raisins all that much” because your book is about the size of one of those lunch-box raisin packets people give out at Halloween that kids always complain about.

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  3. Wonderful work. I wish you had mentioned the exact dimensions! Its smallness is an extreme that brings, paradoxically, more awareness to it–it’s more visually striking, more interesting to touch and hold.
    I’m glad you mention Carrion’s “a sequence of spaces”–here, space is so constrained, which calls attention to space as confines, limits. I’m glad you mentioned repetition, too–there is a space inside repetition, between repetitions, that resonates as well.


  4. I love your book so much!! The construction and the concept feel so clean and polished and so intricately interwoven; I could easily picture your book at an exhibit of artist books. I love how you used different fonts for each of the “no”s, and as I flipped through them in class, I could absolutely see something like you mention here — searching through them for the proper “no” in the proper font, each with a distinct voice, for a specific situation.


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