From the Bookshelf: Singing Bones & Daydreams for Night

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I don’t buy (new) print books for myself often, mostly because they’re pricey here in NZ, but last week at the bookshop a new book came in that caught – and held – my attention and, more importantly, my imagination.

daydreams for night

Its title, Daydreams for Night, is fitting. The stories are strange, snapshot tales, that have a real dreamscape quality to them. Some of them give you a shiver, and others just fire up your own imagination.  They’re accompanied by illustrations – spot illustrations and a two-page spread for each vignette.

singing bones

The other book is one I’ve had my eye on since last Christmas, but just couldn’t justify spending money on. By Shaun Tan (who illustrated The Arrival), it’s called Singing Bones and is a collection of vignettes from fairytales, accompanied by minimalist clay sculptures. To me, it’s as if the simple clay sculptures, and the few words of each vignette, form the ‘bones’ of each story.

What fascinates me about these stories, other than the pure strangeness of them, is how much they can imply in so few words. The mood, and possiblities, are conveyed concisely and with grace. Stunning books, that would be great on any coffee table (or like mine, which are within arm’s reach on my desk).

And they’ve inspired me to write my own (well, combined with the pieces of poetry / prose from Chris Mahan that pop up on my Twitter timeline). And so, I bought them, and I am working on a zine of slightly-dark vignettes and slightly-more-dark illustrations. More on this in the next post, where I’ll get you up to date with my current projects.