April 22nd, 2004

hula

wacky book of the day

Postal Seance: A Scientific Investigation into the Possibility of a Postlife Postal Existence by Henrik Drescher 

Book Description (from amazon)
If you can write letters to Santa Claus c/o the North Pole, you ought to be able to write a letter to Jack Kerouac or Albert Einstein. As it turns out, you can. People have been trying to communicate with the dead for aeons, but it took renowned author and illustrator Henrik Drescher to break through the eternal barrier. Postal Seance is the result of his bizarre and ambitious experiment, in which the afterlife meets the epistolary impulse in the form of elaborately decorated letters to the dead. By sending out 52 ornately designed cards and letters to deceased luminaries throughout history -- including James Joyce, Dolly the Sheep (in two letters), Chairman Mao, Saul Steinberg, and others -- Drescher puts his faith in the efficacy of the international postal network. In some cases, the letter is returned, bearing evidence of its lengthy journey in the form of international postmarks as it bounced from Singapore to Manchester, Sydney to Kentucky, or Madrid to Moscow, at last surrendering to the ultimate defeat, the "Return to Sender" stamp. Of those not returned, it is deduced that the letter was successfully delivered. With a foldout map showing the post-life postal system and custom stamps for the reader's own far-reaching missives, Postal Seance is a uniquely imaginative presentation, and perhaps the closest we humans have ever come to contact with the dead.


Note that this is not some wacky 60's book (I guess the reference to Dolly the cloned sheep gives that away) but a book published this May by Chronicle books.

Chronicle books, for those not in the know, is known especially for coffee table/illustrated books on lightweight "lifestyle" topics such as airstream trailers or sangria recipes. About 5 years ago, the SF Weekly held a snarky contest for "guess which of the following titles is NOT an actual book published by Chronicle Books". I can't remember the actual winner, but I imagine it was less ludicrious than "Postal Seance" in its premise.