My Life in Paper is Beth Kephart’s memoiristic exploration of the paper legacies we forge and leave.
Paper both shapes and defines us. Baby books, diaries, sewing patterns, diplomas, resumes, letters, death certificates – we find our stories in them.
Kephart’s obsession with paper began in the wake of her father’s death, when she began to handcraft books and make and marble paper in his memory. But it was when she read My Life with Paper, an autobiography by the late renowned paper hunter and historian Dard Hunter, that she felt she had found a kindred spirit, someone to whom she might address a series of one-sided letters about life and how we live it. Remembering and crafting, wanting and loving, doubting and forgetting – the spine and weave of My Life in Paper came into view.
Paper, for Kephart, provides proof of our yearning, proof of our failure, proof of the people who loved us and the people we have lost. It offers, too, a counterweight to the fickle state of memory.
My Life in Paper, illustrated by the author herself, is an intimate and poignant meditation on life’s most pressing questions.
Temple University Press, 336pp, 14.3.cm x 21cm, hardcover, 2023
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