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 This is an unpublished story I wrote a few years ago when the shop closed and Roger retired.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."
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.
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.
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.