The Telegraph estimates that half of the books on our shelves are unread. What do we do with the books we never finish, but can't bring ourselves to bin: the books that offend us, intimidate, or bore us? What do we do with manuals of instructions for the washing machine, for the physically unfit, for the lovelorn, with the books we intend to, pretend to have read. What is caught between those unread pages?
(selfie at Shakespeare & Co's secret First Editions room)
At the Port Eliot Festival, from Friday to Sunday next week, Lauren Elkin and I will be running Library of Unread Books. If you're coming to the festival, you'll have the chance to browse, sit, read, and exchange unread books. There will be an unread confessional where you will be able to finally, anonymously confide that you have never read past page 32 of Ulysses, and have only ever glanced at the blurb of Infinte Jest. Please bring an unread, or half-read, book to the library, and you will be able to exchange it for a more (or even less) suitable volume, advised by peripatetically present writer-librarians, who will consult in the unread books open clinic over the weekend.
"Is there a way to behave in a ruin? B. and I are both in the art business, or on its edgelands. We know the drill. We snapped inconsistencies – a fenced-off post box with its label, FINAL COLLECTION, a tumbled ‘sculpture’ of concrete and wire. We picked up papers from the rubble and turned them like archeologists, like fortune tellers: what happened here, and could it clue us in on the future? We read the graffiti that taggers repeated floor after floor just to show
(Did it mean ‘shut’ or ‘near’?)
Across the top of two of the buildings, in the same giant hand:
HERE and NOW
And, on the side of a walkway that crossed Heygate Street,
I'm reading at the Vanguard series on 17th June (tomorrow). It's free & you get Nicci Cloke, Paul Ebbs, Martin Malone, David Ogunmuyiwa, and James Wood too but probably not Monica Vitti... please come anyway.