Click for bigger, readable versions.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Last night I devoured the most beautiful book: the Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will, by German writer and artist Judith Schalansky, published in English by Penguin's Particular Books imprint. It's wonderful: like one of Borges's eccentric encyclopaedias (The Book Of Imaginary Beings or A Universal History of Iniquity come to mind), each entry is a piece of art in itself. Alongside the maps of the islands in question are stories from their histories--tales of utopians, murderers, prisoners and dictators; of the lost, the mad, cannibals and scientists; of nuclear bombs and tonnes of accumulated birdshit. It's all described with a voice that is both lucid and poetic, a style which, while explaining things, actually makes the world seem more mysterious. It is, in a word, great.