Illustrations by Master Artist Gustave Doré, from the Bible Gallery, circa 1880

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Supplementary Photos for “Gustave Doré, Circa 1880” Post (Field Observation)

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These digital photographs were taken by me, featuring the Bible Gallery Illustrated by Gustave Doré.  Most of these photographs are not seen in my Gustave Doré field research post, however there may be just a few that are included. These are photographs that I took after I conducted my field research, as Robert allowed me to take his antique books home so that I could photograph them in more detail.  Please enjoy!

Field Observation & Transcription: Gustave Doré. Circa 1880.

TRANSCRIPTION Part II:

*To see Transcription Part I, See An Antiquarian Collection

Perched in the bleachers overlooking the baseball field at Bennett’s Crossing, I watched as the batter up swung hard, sending the baseball soaring over the fence, high up into the air. The ball came arching down, headed into the parking lot. I grimaced as it looked to be coming down near my car. I paused from my current engagement with Robert’s antique books long enough to watch the ball drop, gaining full assurance that no harm was about to befall my windshield before I resumed.

I notice that the sky is looking heavier than when I first arrived and some dark clouds have begun to roll in. They look like rain clouds not thunderheads, thankfully.

I turn around to hear Robert’s wife, Lynne loudly rooting, “Come on Jon! Let’s go Jon!”

I feel somewhat guilty that I have not paid attention to the team or rooted for Robert and Lynne’s son, Jon–but that was not what I came to the field for.

No harm done.

I take a sigh of relief.

As I turn around, I see Robert reaching down toward the bench, and with extreme care, as if he were cradling a newborn, he lifts an ancient-looking copy of the Bible Gallery Illustrated by Gustave Doré.

Throughout the course of my research on books, I have not seen such a long-preserved, incredible work. The cover of the Bible Gallery is a dark gold hue and has tiny round bumps that texture it throughout. On the corners, where the book has taken over one hundred years of wear, I notice that the little raised portion of the bumps have lost their color and are now are yellow-white. I love the way that this distressing creates a sense of texture around the edges.

The title is gold (metallic) and outlined in black. The “B” and the “G” are highly stylized, with golden rays coming behind the “G“.  The portion of the title, Illustrated by Gustave Doré is done entirely in black.

The illustrated portion portrays a golden Adam and Eve, afoot towards a rocky terrain, with foliage to the left, presumably the Garden of Eden.

There is a golden angel behind them, pointing ahead, and another golden angel in the upper right corner.

“Ok, Bible Gallery… yeah, you could say this has been around,” Robert says laughingly.

Lynne helps me take some photos of the book, as the job takes two people. This copy of Bible Gallery is much too fragile to risk an ill-timed mishandle.

I have not had extensive experience in handling antique books, but from the looks of this one must watch every move, considering the weight of the book and how one movement might shift the materials or put weight on a weakened part, adding stress the book cannot handle.   

Already, there are “crumbs” on the bleachers from the  book’s aged spine and cover.

It appears I can not pick it up or touch it without a leaving a tiny trail of wood grain, fibers or bits of paper from the edges of the book’s fragile pages.  

“Ok, now can you see the date?” Robert asks.

His tone is rich in emphasis–obviously he is saying this to show how old the book actually is than pose a question to me.

“1880,” Lynne states.

1880–that would make the book 140 years old. Robert goes on to give me some background on its history.

“This is a book that came down through the family. It was given to me by my dad. the copyright here says 1880. This really shows you how the books were put together as I mentioned before, in the other book about the Titanic, here you can see the actual thread.”

Looking at the part of the book where the spine *used* to be, I can see the page groupings. The book is quite large, and being able to see the page groupings reminds me for a moment of the interview I had with ACCC student Jennifer Horberg as she was the first one to show me how page groupings worked for a book-maker.

The noise of the people around us, combined with that of the baseball coaches, seeps into my stream of consciousness and yanks me back to my physical locale and out of the mental flow I am in.  Apparently, the baseball game seems to be really taking off as parents are yelling and cheering.

I tune back in and try to focus on what Robert is saying but I got lost.

Too much commotion.

I notice the degree of trepidation that feel towards handling the book, and although I want to treat it with as much respect possible, I can’t help but wonder if it mishandled and something happened to it, how much would it decrease in value. I glance over at Lynne; she seems to be tuned into the game  rooting for Jon.

Robert is panning the field, observing the players.

“Robert, how much is a book like this worth?” I ask.

“Oh, I’d say…this book is not really going to get a lot of money outside of, I guess, say an antique dealer–who wanted to get the prints. It’s really about Gustave Doré. Now, it has the story of Doré right here.”

Robert points to the inside of the book.

“Doré was one of the best illustrators in the 19th century and he’s very well-known for this Bible Gallery book which a runaway success, and anything else he illustrated.

For us, we know of his drawings but mostly through his illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Most notably, the Inferno.”

While Robert is giving me backstory on Doré, I hear the coach boom orders to the players, “Let’s go! Let’s go! Hustle in, hustle out!”

Ok, I can relate. I’ve heard of Dante’s Inferno since I was around ten or so.

“Doré illustrated that?” I ask, both eyebrows up.

“Yes, he illustrated that. The Divine Comedy, um…was three sections as everyone knows, the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso.”

And Robert continues bringing it full circle with Doré. “And, this is how Gustave Doré draws…”

And he points to an incredibly detailed illustration.

At this point Lynne motions to the illustration and interjects, “Now what’s that? A lady laying down there with no shirt on?”

“Noooo, that’s the Murder of Abel,” Robert answers, a mock smile, teasing.

Lynne seems to be in a playful, bantering mood but  Robert is serious.

“No, no, it’s a man,” Robert replies with almost no affect.

And almost without missing a beat he continues.

“And um, he [Doré] did everything in pencil. That I know of, which reads as charcoal. And, if you were to rub your hand over this, you would see an inky residue from the drawing. Because that’s how they did it back then.”

I glance over at Lynne to see if she looks interested or if she is tuned into the game. She is squinting, looking to our left.

“Hey, isnt that Randy DeMarko over there?” she asks.

From her tone, she  seems to have spotted him and thinks it’s him.  Randy is the husband of a good friend of hers.

Robert looks over and shrugs, “Yeah, hmm. Can’t really tell. Maybe…”

Holding the book, he seems to be drinking in the illustrations on the pages. He glances up at me, looks quizzical and quickly smiles, lips inward, as if to say, “Ready to resume?” and I draw my attention to the page he is relishing.

“This was quite an event to buy this book and have it in your family. Now, the Bible Gallery is just that. For instance, this is the Tower of Babel,” he says remarkably.

“An antique dealer would like to buy this because they would take the pages out, and of course frame them. And…whew, make a lotta money. This was given to me in 1961 by my father when I was really on the young side. Um, I think I was just over, or about eleven years old. My dad was not one to get into books.   I don’t know why, but the first book he ever gave me was The Outline of History by H.G. Wells. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t know where he got this. Except to say that, he said it was in the family….”

More hooting and cheering for the teams.

“Go! Good boy! Good boy!” I hear a man’s voice cheer on.

“…and I’ve held onto them ever since,” Robert asserts.

Brushing his finger over the side of the book, he says, “That’s uh, that’s not hair, that’s wood. That is wood. Anyway, the pictures are in pretty good shape, they’re highly defined. And, if there was such a thing as “paper patina,” ha, it’s got it here.”

Turning a page, Robert says nostalgically, as if longing to be there,”Jacob Tending the Flocks of Laben.”

I am taken with the artwork. The sheer amount of as shown in the lines which comprise the illustration are incredibly complex. The remind me of fingerprints in a way, all swirling and whirling different directions. It’s almost mind-boggling to take even one illustration in, there is so much work put forth into it.

“Nice guys! Way to play that out. good job!” Lynne yells, cheering the kids on.

Clapping.

Followed up with an enthusiastic,”Awesome pitching buddy!”

Despite the noise and excitement, Robert is in another world with the book.

“Oh, this’ll just blow your mind…Ohhooo, is this good?” he says with utter delight.

“The only thing is, when you turn these, you really have to be careful, you almost have to treat it like tissue, because it rips, (snaps fingers) like that. But the bond of the paper is very good.”

Lynne is helping me by snapping a few photos while I
jot.

“Hon, can we get another one?” she asks Robert.       “For a lot of people, such a book as this, taught them so much because the book made it very real. They were so expensive And if you bought the Bible Gallery, you know, you had a family heirloom,” he says, looking over his glasses at me.

“Ruth and Boaz,” here we go.

Perfection. Just exquisite mastery.

“If you have this, hang onto it,” he says.

“Ohhhh. This one always got me. When I was an eleven-year-old boy, this was the first one I opened the page to. This was the first thing that I saw, and I really related to this little guy here,” Robert says, gesturing to David. 

“Ping!” I hear the metallic sound of a bat. Ooooh. That sounds like a hit.

“Alright!!!” I hear someone scream.

We are still on David. Whew!

“Here is David sparing Saul, great contrast,” Robert remarks and shakes his head with sincere admiration.

Here’s “The Death of Absalom.”

“I don’t know if you can see Absalom but that’s him here, in the trees, in shadow. Can you see him? He’s dark.” Robert says to me.

Meanwhile, amidst enjoying these possibly more than I can handle, between jottings, I have been trying to get my camera to cooperate with the lighting. I’m trying to determine when to use the flash, as in some of the photos I need the extra light, but I also want to be careful to get the texture of the paper and nuances in hue.

“Whoah, good shot! Nice! He got it! He got it!”

I’ve been hearing Lynne most of the time but this one surprised me, because it came from Robert.

While he might be cheering the guys on, he seamlessly picks up where he left off and says,”And I got it [the book] in this condition pretty much, the condition you see in now, and not knowing what I was doing as a young boy, I taped it and I tried to save it.” Robert shakes his in disgrace.

Wrong move.

Flipping the book over, I am surprised to see that on the back is a gorgeous, ornate design, accompanied by a couple of large stains of some sort. 

Referring to the black splotch sandwiched between the two pieces of tape, Robert comments, “And that’s actual ink by the way, like India ink.”

I rather like it. To me, it’s like a perfect ink splotch.

Lynne whispers over to Robert, “Jon got taken out…”

“Well, maybe they’re gonna have him pitch.”

“Maybe…,” Lynne whispers, her voice full of empathy for her son.

I  notice my camera is low on memory and start deleting photos to make room.

“Great throw! Great throw!” Robert yells to the pitcher.

Adding a final comment though now that things are winding down, Robert says, “Lossing was the first one to illustrate history books, and to have a Doré was the equivalent of having a Lossing. Just to have a book from one of those guys was really special. Lossing’s history, Doré’s illustrations.”

*Editor’s Note: You will notice in my field notes that another book is included in my observation, entitled, My Four Years In Germany by James W. Gerard (of which I also have several accompanying photos.) I plan to include the details about this book as a follow-up post, which I will complete at a later date. Please check back soon!

Field Observation & Transcription: An Antiquarian Collection

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Robert McGinty, who I met through a mutual friend, is a collector of classic books pertaining to poetry, literature, the arts and history.  He teaches English at a local high school and has a background in theater and the creative arts, holding a Master’s from Rutgers University in Creative Arts Education.

During one of our conversations about life as a grad student and my topic of creative research, Robert mentioned jokingly that he was in possession of a 99 year-old book and a 140 year-old-book.

Fast-forwarding to my field observation, I could hardly believe that the 140 year-old book was still in one piece, let alone that he would actually bring it out of the house. It’s not every day I come across someone who offers to set up a mobile, antiquarian book shop.

Robert agreed to bring the books out of the house as part of  a special field observation for me to include in my graduate research project.We made plans to meet up together at his son’s baseball game, along with his wife, Lynne.

TRANSCRIPTION Part I:

For Transcription Part II, See Doré Circa 1880

Still somewhat in shock that Robert has agreed to bring his books out of the house and to a baseball game nonetheless, I hurry myself not wanting to be a minute late, but also not wanting to forget any of my field observation essentials–such as my notebook, camera, digital recorder and extra batteries and extra pens.

Stepping outside, the time is about ten minutes to five in the evening. The sky looks grayish-white; the air feels heavy and humid. My palms and fingers feel clammy just from walking from the front door to my car. Jumping into the driver’s seat, a wave of excitement rushes over me, but from the looks of the sky, the thought crosses my mind that it looks like rain.

I quickly glance around inside my car in search of an umbrella, but just as soon decide that it if rains, any chance of meeting a 99 year-old book will be out the window.  No need.

In under ten minutes, I have arrived at Bennett’s Crossing where the baseball field is, and I notice that there are hardly any cars in the lot. This is actually a relief because it means that I am not late, and have not kept anyone waiting. (Not that they would be “waiting” but it just felt better to be early.)

Ah. Off to a good start!

I decide to get a head start on things and proceed over to the bleachers to get myself situated and collected. No sooner have I climbed onto a bench and am unzipping the case for my camera when Robert, Lynne and the kids have arrived. Jon is suited up to play ball. He looks sharp in his blue and white uniform. He’s 13 and going through a growth spurt.

The two younger boys, Sam with strawberry-blonde hair and Michael with dark hair like Lynne, race out of the car and are almost on the jungle gym before Lynne has a chance to tell them to stay in sight.

“Michael and Sam, go play but you better stay in sight!” she yells, with both hands around her mouth like a megaphone.

We are seated to the right of the batter/pitcher/umpire. I am seated on the uppermost bleacher, Lynne sits on the bleacher just below mine, to my left. Robert has gone back to the car to get the books. As he approaches our bench, his rimless glasses glint in the hazy sunlight and he’s wearing his faded-green military jacket. Settling down with the precious cargo he carried over, he ever-so-gently sits the books down on the bleachers right below me.

There are parents and bystanders randomly scattered about, a few within earshot and close enough to see the literary exhibition just about to go on. I don’t mind, but I can’t help but feel rude as I have no intention of watching the game.

The first book the Robert sets center-stage is medium-sized. The cover, spine and pages are gorgeously worn with age. The word Titanic in red, echoing the embellished frame, around a black and white picture of the majestic ship.

At the top, the title reads, The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters and Thrilling Stories Of Survivors With Photographs & Sketches is just below.

The book Robert holds is now 99 years old.

After I shoot the photo, he offers it to me with both hands.

As I touch the front cover, I can literally feel a slight raise of the red paint. It still has a sheen to it after all these years, albeit barely there, but there. (*See detail in the photo below.)

The picture of the Titanic on the front cover also has a slight raise to it; it sits just a hair higher than the stained, golden fibers of the material which stretch across the cover. (*See detail in photo below)

Looking closer, I can see that each letter, each character and embellishment colored black on the cover is impressed into the surface.

I smile slowly and take a breath.

Running my index finger over the letters I can feel the subtle depth of recession–a marvelous feeling!

You see, to me, each sensation of texture on the face of the cover is like savoring a gourmet dessert. I have only read about books this old, I have never met one.

“Is this the kind of old you wanted?” Robert says, laughingly.

Gesturing to the book, he says,”This is a reprint, the Memorial Edition has blue on its cover, I have it at home. It has the same picture of the boat on the front as this one, but silver inlay for the lettering. This copy came out the same year. But because the publisher didn’t have rights to the photographs the people who printed this copy made drawing on the inside. However, the story is the same. It’s a decent edition, a little bit worn on the binding.”

“Where did you find the Memorial copy?” I ask.

“That, I purchased for twenty dollars out of the Nor’easter bookstore in Ocean City–which is long gone. Umm, bought that for twenty dollars, which is good money at the time. It was in decent shape. And that was around 1987.”

I notice that Robert takes his breaks in between words long enough for me to make quick jots, in between looking through the antique book. I am slowly turning the pages with great care, two hands for each page.

I am huddled over the book, guarding it from the elements, protective.

The visible levels of wear are beautiful. I am amazed at the layers of material underneath the topmost layer of fabric upon which the title and illustrations rest. Without peeling anything back, I spy the “under-workings” of the spine. These layers are the strength of the book and they boast a superior quality of workmanship–giving glimpses here and there of the skeleton underneath.

I peer for an even closer look.

Observing  me inspect the book with intense interest, Robert says, “Looking at the spine, on the bottom, and it still has some banding of the cover over it, but down here, you’ll see like in sections the book was put together and then it was threaded together in order to bind it and glue could be used but that wasn’t the major thing at that time. So it was basically kept together by the thread and this as an overlay. These are the best books that possibly could be made. Around the 1900’s books were still relatively expensive even though industrially produced.

I overhear Lynne exclaim, “Who takes twelve hours to get ready for a prom?! That’s ridiculous.”

It must be prom season.

But back to the book.

I look up and nod my head, acknowledging Robert’s commentary on book-binding methods of the early 1900’s.

I am caught between guarding the book, relishing every second viewing it and holding it, trying to make sure that I get photos, and writing down what Robert is sharing on the “tour.”

I don’t want to miss a thing.

I am also aware of the man and woman in their fifties or so, standing about 12 feet away, eavesdropping on our conversation, taking in our dramatics. I feel like we should be in a museum or a classroom, but we are gathered on bleachers at a community ball game for junior-high age boys–the irony of it suddenly strikes me funny.

As I continue to look through the book, trying to take in the fullness of its age, the history for which it stands, the technical processes that created it, Robert says, “It could be reconstructed.”

I look at the layers of materials and bindings that are still going strong, still held together, and I wonder what this would require, if not replacing a great portion of the materials. “wouldn’t that be like taking away from the beauty of an old book?” I think to myself.

“How?” I ask.

“Book specialists. I’m not sure exactly how much could be maintained but it could be done.”

Book specialists.

Robert purchased The Sinking Titanic and Great Sea Disasters many years ago, he is not sure of the exact date, but tells me he discovered it in a bookstore in the Village (NYC).

“It was in a pile underneath a bunch of other books.”

“Why do you think someone else didn’t snatch it up? This is amazing,” I say.

“Oh, probably because they didn’t know what they were looking for. The drawings probably dissuaded people from buying it because they weren’t real, live photographs. That’s my guess. Is that accurate? I don’t know. ”

People clap and cheer the teams and I try to stay focused on the precious information Robert is giving me. It’s difficult because I don’t want to appear as rude or intrusive, as it is obvious that I am disengaged from the games, but I need my full attention on the matter at hand. I also sense people close to us very aware of what we are talking about. They have gotten a couple of feet closer since Robert and I have talking and I’ve been taking photos.

The gnats are bad. I pull my hood on. I can still feel them under my white hoodie itching.

I savor one last look at The Sinking of the Titanic and the Great Sea Disasters, and hand the book back to Robert with both hands, careful to assure a safe passing of the book back to its owner.

Post-Interview Reflection: Michelle Wagner

Overall, the online interview via e-mail that I conducted with Michelle went well above my expectations.

I had imagined that she would provide answers that would be “sufficient,” but not long, and most likely flavored with guardedness. I can only imagine how someone might respond about details that are personal. If our interview pertained to information of the professional or clinical genre, I would expect a lengthy response as there would be no concern of privacy or disclosure.

However, since Michelle has already been an active member of  an online community (Circle of Moms), perhaps she had gotten used to opening up about personal details due to the nature of the forum, sharing them with women that she had only had online or “virtual”  conversations with. And, perhaps her frame of mind carried over into our dialogue. This is just my conjecture, but at any rate, I was glad that she was both interested in my topic and eager to share with me her experiences.

In her response, Michelle shared specifics with me about growing up being home-schooled, and how her parents would spend quality time every afternoon and evening by reading books to her and her siblings. Michelle’s parents, Stan and Linda, communicated to their kids that they cared about them enough to make it a priority to read to them every day. To Michelle, their commitment and attitude toward reading books to their kids said, “I love you.”

From my interview with Michelle, I learned that she developed a fondness for books not just because she like to read, but also because books were a physical point of connection to quality time spent with her mom and dad, and her brothers and sisters. Every child yearns and needs to know that from his or her parents. So, from Michelle’s own childhood experiences, I could see that she learned that spending quality time by reading books together was an effective way to say, “I love you”.

This was a core aspect of her emotional attachment to books, which she carried on by spending quality time with her own son and daughter reading to them.

I expected Michelle to share with me about how she read to her son, Asher, and daughter, Nyah, and what sorts of activities she enjoyed doing with them, as most moms relish sharing about their kids. For example, Michelle stated that she takes Nyah to the library every week and either she or her husband Tim reads to both children every night. But, it was background Michelle shared about on herself and what it was like growing up with books that provided me the most context; it was a surprise and a delight.

If I were to do the interview differently, I think I might have tried composed my questions on a Word document instead of in the body of the e-mail. With e-mail I am very limited in how I can “flavor” the content through adding layers of formatting and graphics–a little “marketing” to open up the rapport.  Using a Word document would allow for more creativity and personal touch to color the content, per Mann and Stewart’s assertion in Postmodern Interviewing, (p. 88).

However, at the time I felt conflicted because I had it in my mind that there was something about getting an actual Word document that implied formality, a sense of intimidating permanence, despite artistic flair. To avoid any glitches, I opted not to take a risk (or so I perceived it to be so). I wanted to keep in the flow of an “online presence” as much as possible. I am not sure whether transferring my questions to a different format would have generated a less open response or not, but I was hesitant to add anything that might change our working dynamic.

As a whole, this interview gave me a great perspective on emotional contexts that are attached to books, but I do not yet have a perspective from someone who loves books solely for the book itself, (the book not serving a “dual role,” also as a gateway to nostalgia or a means to family bonding.) I would like to get additional perspective from folks who appreciate the qualities/components that are unique to the book as an object.  However, so far I have seen how the book is a gateway to our memories, stirring within us great bonds of affection.

To see additional details of my online interview with Michelle, I invite you to view my post Interview on Traditions in Literacy: Storytime for further reading.

Post-Interview Reflection: Dr. Andrew P. Surace

This first portion of this post is a transcription of my interview with Dr. Surace; the latter part discusses my reflection post-interview.

Growing up, Dr. Surace’s parents didn’t read to him, as they themselves were not fans of books.

About books, Dr. Surace says, “It was not popular when I was little.”

He gravitated towards books on his own and around the 4th, 5th, 6th grades were the Danny Dunn series of adventure books.

(Dr. Surace): “You know it’s not like today, where there is such a prolifery of books out there. Back in the day when I was in 4th, 5th, 6th grades, it was Danny Dunn and Dr. Seuss. I had both of those collections. Then you know, science was always big because I wanted to be a doctor. I had a lot of biology, that kind of stuff.“

(Me): Did you read science fiction?

(Dr. Surace): “No, I don’t read fiction hardly at all, with the exception of Danny Dunn when I was a kid. Once I got to high school, it was only books that were centered on reality. “

(Me): Did you keep any of your books that you had when you were a kid?

(Dr. Surace): “You know, I have one. I wrote it actually. I wrote it when I was in the 6th grade, it’s like 40 pages long. I can show it to ya. It’s pretty funny. It was about the adventures of this kid…I tell ya the truth, I haven’t looked at it in 10 years, but it’s in my drawer in a manila envelope. “

(Me): So, you kept that book all these years—it being something like a family heirloom?

(Dr. Surace): “Again my parents weren’t really readers, but I’m going to leave some books for my kids, including the books that I wrote. Now, my son, who’s never cracked a book in his life is writing a book. He’s writing a novel, he’s reading books like they’re toilet paper. My daughter Beth is writing a book. All my kids are getting into reading and writing in their twenties. In college [for me] it was all commentaries by the great Biblical writers and commentators. In college, I was in Bible school so it gave me a wealth of books, because preachers are into books. “

[Clarification: Dr. Surace mentioned in the beginning of the interview that he wanted to be a physician growing up. He did attend pre-med school but dropped out in his sophomore year; that is the point where he shifted his direction and began seminary school.]

(Me): So, studying Hebrew roots…

(Dr. Surace): “A lot of these books are word studies. I have a real love of words. Because words are power–if you can put something into words. But you have to have a grasp on words. “

(Me): Do you have any books that are classics, or versions of the Bible that are really old?

(Dr. Surace): “I have a Bible that’s about a foot thick, and it’s from the 1800’s. Somebody gave it to me, and it’s an amazing book—it weighs about 50 pounds. It’s an old, old ancient Bible. “

(Me): Why is it so thick?

(Dr. Surace): “You know, that’s a good question. It sure is big enough, and the writings not that big. It’s not a study Bible or anything, it’s just a big, big Bible from the 1800’s. I do have other books, but most of them are not old, they’re just classics. So, like ‘new-old’ classics.”

(Me): Hmm… sounds very “tome-ish,” like a relic. So, what about the sensory experience of reading a book?

(Dr. Surace): “You know, if someone was reading the book and was wearing perfume, I can smell it when I pick up the book. Like I have books that smell like suntan lotion, ‘cause I read them at the beach. And when I pick up one of those books and I smell that suntan lotion, oh man, it brings me back to those memories. Some of my books that I take to the beach have sand in them, which I don’t really like, but at least it doesn’t ruin them.”

This interview was a great experience for me and it went better than I expected in terms of how candid Dr. Surace was with me. Dr. Surace has a high-energy personality, and is typically extremely busy, yet he is very easy to converse with and down to earth.  Dr. Surace is originally from Brooklyn New York, which is where he grew up, and after living in southern New Jersey for over 30 years, he still has a thick New York accent.

The only avenue I was hoping for more information that I would still like someone’s perspective on was appreciating books as one who is acquainted with the parts of the book and the processes required to construct a book.

However, this would require the individual to have a background in book-binding, book-making and printing presses.

I can’t assume that because someone is an author that he or she has some knowledge of these areas pertaining to books. (However, I was quite impressed with the enormous sized Bible from the 1800’s Dr. Surace told me about.)

Personally, after being immersed into the  many  intertwining and overlapping aspects surrounding the culture of bibliophilia, I think I may have subconsciously associated “author” with “book expert” because they are related, yet–very different. So, this was also a fascinating experience for me, as I got to observe the effects of immersion into an unknown field of research on myself, and the subconscious associations and relationships that I formed in my mind, unaware I was doing so (or had done so.)

Where I hope to go next, (even though it will most likely be after my semester comes to an end) is to speak with someone who has an affection for books as an object of art, or master craftsmanship. I am not looking for someone who is a collector for the sake of monetary value, but instead because he or she has a depth of knowledge of the design principles and technical processes it takes to create a beautiful book.

Pre-Interview Preparation Post: Dr. Andrew P. Surace

This is my pre-interview, preparation post supplementary to my in-person interview with Dr. Andrew P. Surace.

As I stated in my post, Objects of Desire, originally I planned to meet with author Les Tomlinson Jr., but I had a change of plans and made arrangements to interview local author and book lover and area pastor, Dr. Andrew P. Surace instead. The specifics of my arrangement were that Dr. Surace had agreed for an interview in his church office on April 9th, which was a Saturday afternoon, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

I chose to interview Dr. Andrew P. Surace as he is someone who has a direct relationship with books, a local author who has written Stepping Stones Along the Path of Life and Power Points from the Word.

The theoretical approach I decided I would take was that of an active subject, as discussed in Postmodern Interviewing.

In Postmodern Interviewing Holstein and Gubrium describe an active subject approach as, “The image of the  active interview transforms the subject behind the respondent from a repository of opinions and reason or a wellspring of emotions into a productive source of knowledge. From the time one identifies a topic, to research selection, questioning and answering, and, finally, to the interpretation of responses, interviewing itself is a concerted project for producing meaning. The imagined subject behind the respondent emerges as part of the project, not beforehand. Within the interview itself, the subject is fleshed out–rationally, emotionally, in combination, or otherwise–in relation to the give and take of the interview process and the interview’s broader research purposes,” (p. 74).

I felt that this was the closest approach that describes my intent, as through the interview my understanding of my research topic of why people love books was taking form and shape, evolving from my previous understanding to a new one shaped by the conversation.

Some of the questions I planned to bring up were what it was like to grow up in the baby-boomer era, (as it was so different than today, with the myriad of electronic entertainment that kids have access to), favorite books and why, if he had any books that he would give to his kids someday, and his observations of what ways his being a reader and a book lover has effected his kids.