Sunday, June 12, 2011

A note on the type

We spent the weekend on the Rhine, including the preposterously cute town of Unkel, and the once-grand/now-tawdry town of Remagen. Among other things, we went to an art fair where I spent an imaginary 10,000 euros on jewelry.

On the way home, to ease the fear that I’m wasting my life, I pulled the old trick of reading in the car until I ALMOST felt sick, then resting, and resuming. I’m reading The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. My daughter asked me what it’s about, and the plot is truly not that interesting: gay 20-year old staying at the house of a rich English parliamentarian. But it is excellent writing, which expunges all shortcomings (if the lack of a plot is a shortcoming.)

I am lucky to have picked up a hardbound copy of this book somewhere (Borders sell-out?), with its beautiful cover and its heavy paper and dust jacket. During one of my non-reading intervals in the car, I just fondled it and was glad it was mine, glad I could underline and write in the margins should I want to. E-books be damned.

What struck me funny was the half-page "note on the type," Bembo, three times longer than the author’s biography. Bembo is 600 years older than Hollinghurst! It was born in Venice! The typography note turns into a homage, and an anthem for those who love tangible print on real paper. Ok, computer-screen print is also in some font or the other, but you could just as well mark it and change it to comic sans. People!


Kathleen said...

I do love notes on the type. And I do love underlining and marginalia. (Sometimes I don't do it, though. Sometimes I do.) Indeed, ebooks be damned. Or hacked. Whatever it might be. I also wear imaginary jewelry. And I have some earrings made of paper.

Jeff said...

You know how I feel about ebooks so I won't go there.

Good to hear that the typeface gets some attention. Now, a typeface is only something that gets chosen in a drop down menu. There once were people who saw type as a design element and actually thought how important it was in conveying the story being told.

"Typecast" - an appropriate word itself under the circumstances...and I know how you feel about words... :)

- Jeff

SarahJane said...

Imaginary jewelry isn't all that fun, necessary as it may be.

Jeff - I do enjoy looking at typefaces. There are so many more than what we find on our computers. At the same time, it is weird that the typeface got its own page. The artwork on the cover didn't get a page. The forest the paper came from didn't get a page, nor were the origins of the characters' names traced anywhere...

Anonymous said...

i've been gone for a bit from the blog world. good to come back and find that someone else had noticed the absence of the forest on a page.

i have changed my blog website, but alas i have no control over the font.

-sherry o'keefe

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