Stories of Struggle is a compilation of nine oral histories taken from StoryCorps under their "struggle" tag. StoryCorps is a story sharing organization that documents peoples personal stories in an archive. The struggles discussed in this book focus on LGBT issues, homelessness, and suicide. There are three stories for each of these issues.
The idea of this book was to make it as much of a struggle to read as possible. Every other spread is upside down, which is reflected in the cover with every other line being upside down. The cover is also hindered by a vellum die-cut book jacket that makes it just slightly more of a struggle to read. Inside the first half of the book is the intros to the stories, the names, pictures, and backstories involved. The second half of the book is statistics related to the content of the stories: homelessness, LGBT issues, and suicide. The stories themselves are printed on a poster, which in itself is a struggle to read. See below for details.
In order to read the stories on the poster, you have to fold it. Because sometimes in the struggle you fold. The stories are on three diagonal lines and are then split in half and need to be paired back together. They all have different orientations, and are all set into different shapes that are different colors. These shapes and colors are correlated in the book, as the intro matching the story has the shape printed on the top and the photo for that story is tinted the respective color. These shapes are used throughout the book to make patterns and are referenced on the cover.
This book was set in Perpetua, designed by Eric Gill and Alternate Gothic by the American Type Founders.
Both of these typefaces represent struggle in their own ways.
Perpetua was named for Christian martyr Vibia Perpetua. It was also a struggle to create this font, as Eric Gill didn’t agree with the usual engineering for type at the Monotype Corporation, and instead sent the face to be cut by hand. After this had been done, changes had to be made and it had to be done again. Even after all this, it took five years for the face to be released. It was decided a sans serif was more needed at the time, and Gil Sans was released instead.
The American Type Founders faced their own hardships. During the Great Depression in 1929, hours had to be cut sharply, and sales started to decline. In 1933, the foundry filed for voluntary bankruptcy and was put under the supervision of a bank. By 1938 it was doomed. The American Type Founders, as well as the 23 other type foundries that had combined to originally create it, stopped creating new typefaces.
In the event that this book was really published, there could be a book signing to celebrate and announce the arrival of the book. At this event there could be a time to talk about the struggles in the book and a time to talk about the struggles of those in attendance, in a sort of open mic story telling. To get the word out about this event invites would be mailed to friends and members of the shop or library holding the signing. Additionally posters would be hung around the city where the event is taking place. Both of these things would get across the gist of the book by incorporating one of the story-filled-shapes from the poster insert in the book.
Stories of Struggle is a book that showcases a range of struggles and imparts the reader to empathize with the people involved by struggling in their own way just to read the stories. Aesthetically and intellectually pleasing, this book sheds light on the main issues discussed as well as brings attention to the work of StoryCorps. Every aspect of the book is researched and considered to make it an entire experience tinged in struggle.
Many steps were taken in the creation of this book. Many struggles were had. Read all about them and how I overcame them in this book about my process.
Click here to view the book in a new window.