Tag: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Volume 3

Cover image for The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 3 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and wirrowCompiled by Joseph Gordon-Levitt & wirrow

ISBN 978-0-06-212165-3

After a hard day’s make-believe I like to just kick back with my creations.”

They might be (very) short stories, or they might be poetry, or they might be something else entirely. It’s a bit hard to pin down the tiny stories that make up this collaborative anthology, which was compiled by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his partner-in-crime, wirrow. This is the third and final volume they have put together from a selection of contributions to the Tiny Stories project on the hitrecord.org website. Eighty-two contributors are credited in this volume, and more than 35 000 have contributed to the online archive. All contributions are available to be remixed by participants, and half of the proceeds from the publication of the Tiny Stories series go to the contributors, with the other half going back into the production company.

After a hard day's make-believe I like to just kick back with my creations.
Click to enlarge

Each page or two page spread features an illustration paired with a short piece of text. Many wouldn’t mean much alone, but together they are powerful. The drawings are mostly black and white, but more colour has crept into them as the series goes on. Volume 1 was entirely black and white, while Volume 2 included thirteen images that incorporated the colour red. Volume 3 includes fifteen colour illustrations, and incorporates a wider variety of colours. It’s a delight to happen upon the coloured pictures in the midst of their black and white counterparts. While Volume 2 didn’t suffer for exploring what can be done with black, white, grey, and red, Volume 3 opens the door on wider possibilities.

I want desperately to press you between the pages of a book and keep you forever.
Click to enlarge.

The stories cover a broad range, from sweet (“Ok let’s snuggle for the whole day and then maybe two more whole days but then we’ll get up and do some work! And we’ll just take snuggle breaks in between to reward ourselves”) to melancholy (“This overwhelming desire to be close to you directly conflicts with my intense fear of people”) to creepy (“I want desperately to press you between the pages of a book and keep you forever”). They are incredibly varied, with their greatest commonality being the amount of room left for interpretation by the reader. There’s what’s on the page, and then there’s what you read into it. Tiny stories leave more than the usual amount of room for the reader’s imagination to run wild within the sketchy bounds of the narrative. The stories are a little bit like zen koans; if you can prevent yourself from greedily gobbling them up in one sitting, you could stop and ponder each one for quite some time. The Tiny Stories have just gotten better with each successive volume, and I am beyond sad that this one is set to be the last in the series. Fortunately, they only get better with re-reading.

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The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Volume 2

Cover Image for The Tiny Book of  Tiny Stories Volume 2by Joseph Gordon-Levitt & wirrow

ISBN 978-0-06-212163-9

“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.