Requiem for a Bookshop

Roger Carlson, the proprietor of Bookman’s Alley, died recently. Roger and his bookshop were great favorites of mine and I included them in The Time Traveler's Wife. This is an unpublished story I wrote a few years ago when the shop closed and Roger retired. I felt very shy when I gave it to him but he was as gracious as always about being press-ganged into my fictions. It is a chapter in my book-in-progress called The Library which begins with the story "The Night Bookmobile."

On Writing and Publishing

Most of my writing before 1997 was meant to go into artist’s books, or to be performed as a monologue, or sent on a postcard, or hidden away in a diary. I wrote short stories but didn’t publish them. In 1997 I had an idea for a novel. It took almost five years to write and eventually became The Time Traveler’s Wife.

On Art and Artist's Books

The first handmade books I ever saw were in a box in the Children’s Room in the old Evanston Public Library. One artist had used xeroxes of the heads of American presidents (xeroxed from money) to make all the characters; It was the first time I realized that people made books, books did not materialize out of the ether. I started making small books of my own by folding and stapling scrap paper.

On Teaching

I started teaching in 1987, when I was twenty-three. I have taught printmaking, artists books, drawing, photography, letterpress, bookbinding, writing classes for book artists, book arts classes for writers, seminars for novelists, and a course on the history of visual narrative. Most recently, I was a professor in the Creative Writing Department of Columbia College; I left in May of 2015 in order to have more time to write. Prior to that, I taught in the MFA program of the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts, and also at The Newberry Library, Penland School of Craft, Haystack, and Northwestern University.