This has been a couple of busy weeks in the life of this small-press publisher. I sent two, not one but two, books to the printer. They are very different, and I love them both the way you love a couple of disparate children. Like my button-down-collar son and my ponytail-tattooed son. What they have in common (the books) is that they spring out of the culture of the Peruvian highlands. And they both tell stories.
I’ve written about one of them before, or at least given hints. Faces of Tradition: Weaving Elders of the Andes balances between stunning photographs and intimate life stories. Making this book has been a peak experience for me, both in developing the content and working with the creative team.
Joe Coca, my favorite photographer sidekick, poured his all into the pictures. He chuffed up dirt paths at 12,000 feet or more with trunks of gear, established rapport with elderly people whose first or only language was Quechua, and edited a few thousand shots down to something manageable—a far cry from hanging out in the studio with beautiful young models. (Which he only does sometimes.)
Nilda Callañaupa (whose first name is an anagram of mine so that must mean something), spent 40 or so intense hours interviewing these lovely old people, then way more than 40 hours listening to and transcribing their words and crafting them into individual narratives. This was made especially challenging by the fact that, in each session, everybody wanted to talk at once.
Chris Franquemont, friend, anthropologist and former resident of the Cusco district, translated Nilda’s words from Spanish and elaborated the stories, filling in many rich cultural details from her memories and experience. She made the language sing and the facts correct.
And Michael Signorella, a Boulder graphic designer whom I’ve worked with for many years, brought his very disciplined eye to the design of the book, giving it all the graceful, austere dignity I had hoped for. It’s going to be a beautiful book—when it comes back from the printer in about three months. (This is sort of like the baby analogy—you see the ultrasound, but it’s a while before you get to see the actual kid.)
And you, dear reader, who gave thoughtful feedback on the book’s cover while it was still half-baked. See how helpful that was? The type is a bit bigger, it stands out more on the background, and the lovely face completely rules the presentation. I’m happy. Okay, what about the other book? You’re just going to have to wait another couple of weeks. You had a sneak preview in the two poster options I asked you to weigh in on last week.(https://thrumsbooks.com/readers-choice) But I can say this: the creative team on this one was every bit as stellar, every bit as diverse, and every bit as committed to making something wonderful. Just you wait.