Now this is public writing. And a story of how an independent bookstore can be a hub of literary wonder. In Notes from a Public Typewriter, Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti tell the story of how Gustafson and his wife opened up a new bookstore in Anne Arbor, Michigan (against the advice of many) and put an old typewriter out for anyone to write on. They didn’t know if anyone would take them up on the offer.
Boy, did they.
This book is mostly filled with the typed notes, stories, poems, and snippets left by the anonymous writers who sat down at a typewriter and hit the keys on a typewriter. I loved the variety of the messages that the writers curate here, and the short narratives of Gustafson about his book store and about the typewriter project give just enough context (Uberti is an design artist who took many of the writings and created a visual wall display at the bookstore site, painting the words of the writers in the font of the typewriter).
The short pieces hint at larger stories, leaving gaps to try to fill in. There’s also appreciation in the lines here — a mix of humor and insight — and recognition of the power of the words we leave behind us.
After reading this book, you’ll want to either dust of your old typewriter (do you still have one?) or find a typewriter somewhere to remember the aesthetic feel of “before word processing.” Hit the keys. Return. Start again. And then go support your local independent bookstore.
Peace (in keystrokes),