Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 1 by hitRECord and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 1
by hitRECord and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Yes, this book is quite tiny. A tiny, adorable piece of art. Filled with stories no more than three sentences — and many that are just one — it features the work of 67 contributions from the creative collective site hitRECord. Illustrations paired with the stories range in style from notebook sketches to expert pencil work, each in a way that works well with their respective text without interpreting it too literally.

A fair number of the stories are simple, amusing plays on words:

"King Midas often
wondered what would happen
if he touched himself."

"The doctor's wife ate two
apples a day, just to be safe.

But her husband kept
coming home."

Some of the jokes make more sense with the artwork. Others are quieter, sadder thoughts:

"You're gone. No mailing address.
But I send you letters anyway."

"If I read our story backwards,
it's about how I un-broke
your heart, and then we were
happy until one day, you
forgot about me forever."

All of the contributors are listed in the back of the book by their site usernames. The famous man on the cover is listed here as "RegularJoe." It's an interesting idea, doing a creative collaborative project with whomever frequents the site. Online, they had over 8,000 contributions before the making of Volume 1, and work on Volume 2 is already underway. Part of me wishes that more people used their real names over handles, but I understand that the purpose of the book isn't to give individual acclaim. Yes, Gordon-Levitt's name on the cover helps sell copies and makes big publishing imprints take notice sooner, but apart from the intro, it isn't immediately obvious what his portions of the book are. One has to flip back and forth from the resources list in the back to figure it out.

Perhaps some readers might find the content a bit too twee, but I liked it. I like silly word jokes and animal doodles mixed with outstanding detail and inner reflection. This book feels like a good start to even more interesting work.

On a side note: Apart from some sly sex talk that went over my reading daughter's head, both of my kids spent quite a bit of time looking at this book. They, too, appreciate its tininess.

!t Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, sent me this book. I thank them for the gesture and will continue to be fair with my reviews.

(Though Cannonball Read IV has begun, I am not counting this towards this year's challenge. At 88 pages and with very little text, it might be just a tad TOO tiny for the rules of the challenge. Still, I'm happy to have read this one.)