This is such a simple idea that it seems almost pointless, and yet it works. It is surprisingly powerful to see these small artefacts of a stranger's life - a postcard sent to a sweetheart left in a collection of French stories; an inscription to her father from a young girl warning him he will probably cry when he reads the book, inside the cover of The Little Prince; a recipe for cookies in an old biography.
The remnants are found in classic literary works, obscure manuals, cheap paperbacks, textbooks... the whole gamut you come across in second hand bookshops. Isn't it fascinating to think that every book tells a story - and not just between its covers. Every book was owned by a person who was studying for finals, travelling to Atlanta, writing their last will and testament, going to a dinner party, or breaking up - like the one who wrote this on a postcard found in a copy of Catch 22:
- you know who.
Aren't you itching to know the rest of the story? Would it intrigue you more to know that it was written in Milan in 1961?
Mr. Popek has gathered the best of his finds into a book, just published, by Perigee, titled 'Forgotten Bookmarks: a bookseller's collection of odd things lost between the pages'.
A sure cure for writer's block, I'd say.