by Valerie Kirschenbaum (Global Renaissance Society, 2004)
(This column first appeared in the January 13, 2005 issue of ArtVoice.)
Goodbye Gutenberg is quite simply a remarkable and ground-breaking book. Open it to any of its over 400 pages and your senses will be engaged by their spectacular color and design.
The book's intellectual source was a question posed by one of Kirschenbaum's Bronx high school English students. Referring to the illustration of a manuscript page from pre-Gutenberg Canterbury Tales, she asked, "Why aren't our texts printed in color like this?" Unable to answer at the time, Kirschenbaum's response is this book, six years in preparation.
It breaks all of those writers' rules like "avoid boldface, italics and font changes" and thus is a shocking experience for us old English teachers. But it is as challenging as modern music and is well worth our attention. If only for its beautiful replications of ancient and contemporary art and design, it is well worth reading.
I can recommend no finer holiday present, especially for those who wish to stay young.-- Gerry Rising