Book of Hours.

Chen, Julie & Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder (illus.)

(Berkeley & San Antonio): Flying Fish Press & Coyote Bones Press, 2021. Small quarto. Unpaginated. One of 88 copies. Signed by the artists, Julie Chen and Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder, below the colophon, which is located on the inner rear panel of the box. The result of a long-distance collaboration in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Chen and Schroeder's Book of Hours adopts the blow book format, a historical bit of practical magic in which the magician thumbs different tabs at the book's foreedge in order to give the illusion of mutable contents. Chen and Schroeder provide twelve different series of images—six when flipping right-to-left, six when flipping left-to-right—meditating on feelings of isolation, desolation, and ennui brought on by the events during and surrounding the pandemic. There are faces with, then without, masks, a dot visualization of the virus' spread, a monthly account of news headlines, a doomsday clock, and a mirrored sunset/sunrise. As the viewer plunges linearly through each series, through the months and hours of 2020-2021, within the structure itself lurks a paradoxical emphasis on the cyclicality of time. Blow books, by nature, deny the nonlinear reading normally championed by the customary codex. There is only a forward sequence of images. The genius of Chen and Schroeder is to impose upon that structure layers of narrative, begging the reader to follow the roundabout carousel, which may only go forward, but nevertheless returns to the same point over and over again. In doing so, they contemplate philosophical questions, mental health, public welfare, social contracts, the news cycle, and climate change, all at once, under the ultimate problem of how to live. Printed using letterpress, digital, and Risograph techniques on Mohawk Superfine, Mohawk Keaykolour, and Hahnemühle Bugra papers. Bound in stiff burgundy wrappers. Both covers adorned with a cone motif also found throughout the book and on the protective four-flap box. Very fine. Item #31185

Price: $2,500.00