RTP banner 590 x 200 3
Walking the trail
Saranac- Review-2

A review of the Saranac Review

I’ve been pondering the value of unwanted books for twenty years, placing them in the trees and in the woods to decay over time.

An interview with the Fall 2011 Saranac Review, SUNY Plattsburg, NY touches upon this work and similar projects.

Your book wall is very thought provoking, especially in this age of the Nook and the Kindle, conjuring up ideas about the death of print, an idea that has been bandied about since the early nineties, but I have a feeling that ascribing this sort of meaning to the piece may not be what you had in mind when you began working on it. Can you tell us a bit about the genesis of this project and your thoughts on it?

Wall of Books Fall
Building the 1st sec
IMG 0192

I don’t think the printed page will die. Just look at the current interest in book arts in academia; these students are the future of publishing in the next ten to thirty years. Publishing is changing and the digital is here to stay, but so is the codex as a very efficient means of transporting ideas.

The wall of books was built before digital ink was a buzz phrase. The idea for the wall is about recycling and marking territory. What happens to books that no one wants? And like biological death, no one really likes to talk about it. The life of the book is conception, publishing, distribution, storage--and as ideas and trends change, recycled to used bookstore, library sales, shared with communities without means and then to the dump. The bulk of the wall is forty years of Massachusetts legislative history that I hauled away after one of the many fund-raising sales my local library had to support a new addition to their building. And they ask me every year if I want more books!

This book wall built from a cubic yard of unwanted books and defines my property line opposite another pile of trash--a stone wall built over 150 years ago, unwanted stone collected by a farmer and used to mark a field (I have no stonewall to mark my property). For the sheer romance of the project, I carried these books a quarter mile on my back through the woods from my house to the corner of my property. It took me more than a few hours week over two years, thirty to forty pounds at a time. The books were then stacked carefully to build a wall that would last for some time. It is now ten years old.

Jackie Collins

Plastic book jackets do help protect from wear and tear.

Winter 12

Winter 2012


Installed in 1994, the trees were timbered for firewood in 2008.

Red Encyclopedias, decay detail 1
Red Encyclopedias 1

Installed in 1995 and completely decayed.

email facebook linkedin