Paper Cut

It’s difficult to see on the screen, but the cover of The Fifty Year Sword is stippled with small puncture marks. Each mark is raised, as though the puncture came from within the story itself. This is a clever bit of design that hints at the wondrous elements contained therein. This is not a new story by Mark Z. Danielewski, but it is a new presentation of a ghost story that originated as a shadow show. Translating the ambiance of shadows onto the printed page is a challenge, and Danielewski has created a unique interpretation.

The story is relayed by five voices separated only by the color of their quotation marks and their diction. It’s a running dialogue, with all five voices speaking at once. It’s disjointed and rapid-fire, filling the page with relatively few words. The facing page is often left blank, or decorated with a progressive design that makes its way into the story. The peculiar designs are best seen, not described. They are strange and extraordinary and incorporate the incorporeal into the artistry of this book. I passed my advance copy on to a student in a book design course, but the finished product had us raving!

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