More to Pop Up

Thinking about the form of novels has led me down many paths: some narrow, some wide, some dusty, some hard, some stoney, some light and some dark. Nothing like mental peregrinations when the evenings draw in. Let us hibernate, by all means: so long as our minds remain awake. Springtime shall ever blossom in the brain. No go for snow there.

For a few days, I had nothing but heptagons flying through my head. I was fixated by the idea of the seven-sided novel. No longer. Which is not to say that I have lost faith; merely that I have begun to consider other futures for literature. Other, perhaps brighter, futures.

One of these futures rolled into my mind this morning as I reconsidered, not for the first time, the literature of my children. What books there were, what books there were! So many books, of so many sizes and shapes!

This last point is significant: at what age is it, after all, that we tire of reading strangely shaped stories? Where does the colour go as we grow? It seems to me that words get smaller, pages duller and shapes ever more uniform. Tristram Shandy’s black page, celebrated as it is, remains a rarity: so too B S Johnson’s cut-out. Books for adults have little time for play – or if they do, the play is wrapped in esoteric complexity that it ceases to be play at all, at least beyond the surface.

All of which, I think, amounts to the following short, considered observation (or, if you choose, rallying cry): Where, oh where are the pop-up books?


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