“The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories.”
You likely know Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an actor, be it from Third Rock from the Sun (1996-2001) or his more recent work, such as Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Looper (2012). However, he is also the founder of HitRECord, the open collaborative production company which produced The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Volume 2, a collaborative anthology of artwork and writing that could easily be described as either a (very) short story collection, or poetry, depending on which piece you are looking at. Materials contributed to HitRECord are openly accessible and available to be remixed. Gordon-Levitt and wirrow collaborated to select and edit the pieces in this anthology. For example, illustrations from one writer may be combined with the artwork contributed by another participant. All contributors are credited in the resources section at the back of the book. 62 contributors participated in this book.
It would be difficult to identify a single unifying theme in this volume, but there are a few common threads. The text of the first piece reads “we must hide find ourselves in fiction,” and many of the pieces explore the importance of stories in our lives, and the idea of fiction as more than mere escapism, but rather as a method of making meaning. Many of the pieces also use wordplay and juxtaposition to toy with our expectations or shift our perspective with just a few words or a few pencil lines. For example, the text “one day she looked up and discovered an opening in her planet. She wondered if she wasn’t alone after all,” takes on a new meaning when placed next to a drawing of a fishbowl.
Physically and artistically, this is a beautiful book. It is small, like the stories it contains, with a navy cloth cover and illustrated endpapers. The illustrations are largely black and white, with the occasional splash of red, but the limited palate never seems to limit the expression; you see the full run of what can be done with black, white, grey and red in these pages. Although this book is available in digital form, I highly recommend the paper copy, particularly if your device has an e-ink screen.