19 January, 2022

LitStack Review: The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 3 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and wirrow

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 3
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and wirrow
IT Books/hitRECord productions
Release Date:  November 5, 2013
ISBN 978-0-06-212165-3

Ever read a book where you had to wait… and wait… and wait to find out what the gist of the dang thing was?  As if the author had fallen in love with his (or her) own voice, and even though the words were strung together beautifully, they just didn’t say anything?  Or lots and lots of things were going on, but there was no discernible point to any of it?

There’s no danger of that happening with The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories series.  The title says it all, reinforced by the recurring signature tag on Volume 3 (that just came out this November):  “The universe is not made of atoms, it’s made of tiny stories”.

The brainchild of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and acclaimed artist wirrow, inspired by cooperative artistry, and created by the fantastically exciting open collaborative production company, hitRECord.org, this year’s The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 3 is, if possible, even better than the ones that came before.  Why, I’m not quite sure.  Perhaps the stories, even brief as they are, are a touch sharper, more piercing (or soothing).  Perhaps, for me, the novelty of it has worn off and I’m even better able to see how “less is more” can be so effective and thought provoking, free of any trending glamour.

As with the previous volumes, each of the stories in this book is indeed tiny.  Each is accompanied by an illustration that adds as much to the tone of the story as the words do.  Most of the stories (outside of the opening “introduction”, which is a short dialog between Gordon-Levitt as astronaut and wirrow as… wirrow-naut) are only a sentence long; the longest ones are 3 sentences (in this volume, the shortest one is only 3 words).  Yet each one speaks of so much more than it is of itself.

Full of whimsy and pathos, loneliness and joy, it’s hard to believe that so much can be said in so few words – until you read them.  Again as in last year’s review, I don’t want to quote too much, since a single quote here encompasses an entire story, but I will give you just one so you get a taste (and it was so very hard to choose which just one, there are so many evocative stories in this slim volume).  This one was contributed by collaborative artists “Metaphorest” and “daniellafers”:

From my ship, adrift, I spied you.  And I thought you were an island.

Alas, you were an iceberg.

Couple such words with a compelling illustration, and you find yourself lingering on every page.  And nearly every story, while lovely and crystalline by itself, seems to suggest so much more.  It is your choice whether to keep it encapsulated in a lovely, delicate bubble, or allow it to float through your own imagination, expanding and delving into your own inner story.

What better gift to give someone in this time of sharing, than a slender book that is so much more than it first appears, and which profits a deserving organization to boot?  And it’s the perfect size to slip into a stocking, or someone’s pocket.  Even if the recipient claims to not be a big reader – well, this isn’t a big book!  (I believe “tiny” is the operative word.)  Yet it’s so much more satisfying than a box of foil wrapped chocolates or pouch of aroma-laden gourmet coffee (and this comes from someone who adores chocolates and coffee).

Just make sure that you pick up one of these books for yourself, too.  Then when it seems like there are too many words being thrown around and not enough substance, or if you get tired of listening to people talk just so they can hear the sound of their own voices, you can come back to The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 3, and remember what it’s like to experience volumes in a single sentence, a single image.

You’re welcome.

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