The Red Tenda of Bologna | 2007
First book from the new publishing imprint Drawbridge Books which is a spin-off from The Drawbridge. Imposing the discipline of new paragraph/new page upon John Berger's short story gives it a rhythm of density and space. Elegant detail drawings by Paul Davis capture the main character's faded memories.
Case bound with linen spine, limited edition in both English and Italian
Article by Dutch journalist, Han Hos:
The rhythm of paragraphs
The Drawbridge is the name of a quarterly newspaper. It's not so much a newspaper, but more a heavily illustrated periodical printed in full-colour. Most of the content is fiction but it also includes articles on art, politics and philosophy. The first issue appeared two years ago and the quarterly has already built up a formidable reputation. At the beginning of 2007, the first book appeared under the imprint of ''Drawbridge Books''. The book's designer is Stephen Coates, who is also The Drawbridge's Art Director.
The publication is a short story called The Red Tenda of Bologna by John Berger, the socially engaged artist, critic, playwright, poet, essayist and filmmaker who won the Booker Prize in the early seventies. ''John Berger gave the story to our publisher Giuseppe Mascoli as a gift,'' explains Stephen coates, ''and we decided to produce it in book form to promote The Drawbridge, but also as a thank-you to Berger for his support of the paper.'' The book is published in both English and Italian. The Italian edition has already sold out, so that a reprint is necessary.
The subtle story is about a man who, in the Italian city of Bologna, tries to revive the dim memories of an uncle who he was able to get on well with. In a the traditional Bolognese drapery store, he buys three metres of red fabric which is used in the city for awnings. It was after all, the colour which his uncle took particular liking to. Drawbridge's Drawings Editor Paul Davis was responsible for the illustrations in the book. ''His brilliant drawings provided some fixed points to the counterbalance Berger's musings on memory. The story is a kind of sleepwalk through the streets of Bologna, with various buildings and scenes evoking a man's childhood memories. The illustrations act as fragments of these memories, although they do not all relate directly to the text,'' Coates informs us.
Coates made a conscious choice to begin each new paragraph, however short, on a new page. ''Berger had sometimes expressed a preference for retaining line spaces between paragraphs for a number of his Drawbridge articles. The effect of this slightly longer pause is to fracture the text into strings of single ideas, scene descriptions or sections of dialogue. With this idea in mind, I followed the discipline of using one paragraph per page, the length of the longest determining the size of the page and the total number of paragraphs deciding the extent of the book. One of the effects of this is to give dramatic emphasis to short paragraphs - for instance pages that contain only the words ''I nod'' or ''He mops his brow''.