Saturday, January 5, 2019

How To Be Invisible: Standard Edition

For this post I had to do a combination of scans and terribly done photos. Trying to scan some of the other parts I wanted to show would have totally destroyed the spine of the book, so that wasn't happening. Instead I took photos for those particular things.

This is a cloth-bound book roughly measuring 8¾" x 5¾". It's a very manageable size - not too large or too small. Included is an attached ribbon bookmark. The back of the book has a removable wraparound piece of card with a bit of a blurb on it. You may or may not have noticed the braille at the top of it.

To begin with, if I'm going to be totally honest about it, then I must admit that I had absolutely no desire in getting this book at all - not the standard edition, and certainly not the signed Special Deluxe edition that Waterstones was selling online for scads of money. Both versions of the book struck me as bland, and I really didn't need or want another book of lyrics. So what changed my mind? Well, about a week prior to its release, I happened to see a few pages inside the book and thought this could be interesting.

The book begins with the table of contents, listing the 83 song titles that are featured inside the book. The songs are grouped together into blocks, and none of the songs are listed alphabetically or in chronological order. I'll get into the breakdown of these songs in a moment.

Following that is an introduction by David Mitchell; a long-winded yawn fest that adds absolutely nothing to the book at all. At nearly 20 pages, it could have easily been whittled down to a single page, leaving out all the self-indulgent drivel in the process. I'm sure not everyone is going to agree with me about the intro, and that's fine - you can do that. 

Next is a very short author's note on the content and how it's been presented as verse in the book. 

Now for the breakdown:

The numbers tell you how many songs per album made it into the book.

The Kick Inside (3)
Lionheart         (3)
Never For Ever (4)
The Dreaming (10)
Hounds of Love (13)
The Whole Story (1)   Experiment IV
The Sensual World (11) I included Walk Straight Down The Middle in this list.
The Red Shoes (11)
Aerial (15)
50 Words For Snow(7)
Before The Dawn (1) Tawny Moon
B-Sides (3)
Soundtrack (1) Lyra

The overall distribution is pretty telling in my opinion. I find it fairly disappointing how the first three albums have been blatantly overlooked, which is an absolute shame as they contain so many fantastic songs. I would have preferred seeing a more even distribution between albums represented in this book, instead of some being favoured over others.

Recently I've been reading a few interesting things online regarding the set up of the book. One little theory suggests the songs chosen for the book, along with their random order, have been very deliberate on Kate's part. It goes on to say that each block of songs has a particular theme attached to it. If this is true, then it would explain why two particular blocks of songs have been kept together as they appear on certain albums; namely A Sky of Honey and The Ninth Wave. Briefly looking over the blocks of songs there does seem to be a different theme running through each one. It's definitely something that warrants further exploration by anyone who has the time to ponder over it.

There are a couple of doodles in the book, along with some interesting font choices here and there. While these things are a nice little touch, there's also not enough of either to make a real impact overall. The book definitely could have benefited more from both of these ideas had they been used more consistently throughout. I'm sure Kate's intention was to let the songs stand on their own merit without other distractions, but since there are a lot of blank areas on pages (even full blank pages), more doodles and crazy fonts could have easily added just that extra bit more to the book. 

One other little thing to note is that How To Be Invisible is printed twice in the book. It's printed once as part of the last song block, but it's also been printed and broken up into sections. Each section is used as part of a page interlude that precedes each song block. There are also a few minor lyrical additions to some songs along the way.

In many ways I'm still on the fence over this one, and somehow I think the book could have been better had it included published lyrics to all the albums and all b-sides. This is why I like the book Kate Bush Complete so much - it did just that right up to the time of its publication in 1987. How To Be Invisible is still alright for what it offers, but I think it could have been so much more in a number of different ways.

In the end it is what it is - a book of lyrics, so if that isn't your thing then this probably won't be the book for you. If you like Kate's music and generally view song lyrics as a form of poetry, then you'll probably enjoy this book a little more.

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