The book I want to write about today isn’t one I’d necessarily recommend that you rush out and buy, but more of an interesting look at what the book can now be. A lot of people say that the book is dead, or will be in a decade or two – of course, people have been saying things like that more or less since the book was invented. Whilst I don’t believe there is any truth in that prophecy, I do believe that the range of possibilities for the book might well expand. Step forward Mistakes in the Background by Laura Dockrill, which was sent to me by Rachael, who works for Borders books, to review. See their page about it here.
The publishing information in the back of Mistakes in the Background describes it as a novel, but it’s difficult to see how it could be called that – it is basically a scrapbook. Laura Dockrill’s blurb says: ‘I draw like a left-handed baby, I can hardly spell my own name and watching me use a gluestick is a bit like watching a large bear trying to ram his own head into a pocket-sized cat flap… no, really.’ She’s not far wrong – the sketches (which appear throughout) are pretty amateur and look like they were done in haste, but with an enthusiasm and sprightliness which is what Dockrill is going for, I imagine.
There is no continuity in the book, really – a page will have a little story about ice skaters, or a cartoon of a snail, or bits and pieces stuck in with sellotape. There’s the typewritten sheets of a Rolf Harris obsessive; footprints, stickers. None of the book is typed, it’s all in the scrawl of Laura Dockrill. I must confess I found the whole book rather self-indulgent, and already feel too old for it… but I was born 70 years too late anyway.
And this is where a segment of the book market is heading – it won’t replace traditional novels, of course, but – though it might not be everyone’s cup of tea – it will bring the book form to more people. That’s got to be a good thing.