Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Whodunit with the paperknife in the library?
July 17, 2011 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Someone has been leaving mysterious miniature paper sculptures in various locations in Scotland. They seem to all be tied to Scottish author Ian Rankin, twitter, and the magic of the written word.

The first sculpture showed up at the Scottish Poetry Library in March. The librarians found a tree growing out of a book, with a note addressed to their twitter feed, @byleaveswelive, saying "this is for you in support of libraries, books, words and ideas." (Audio of the librarians describing the sculpture on the Guardian article is fantastic.)

Then in late June more sculptures started appearing. The National Library of Scotland received a sculpture of a gramaphone and coffin. The sculpture was created out of a hardback copy of Ian Rankin's Exit Music. That same week, staff at the Filmhouse Cinema found a miniature cinema cut from the pages of several books, and featuring a model of Ian Rankin in the audience drinking a Deuchars beer. Both have similar notes, addressed to their respective twitter addresses.

Another sculpture appeared at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, in a room dedicated to Robert Louis Stevenson. This one, a nesting dragon carved from another Ian Rankin book, Knots and Crosses, has a longer note, saying, "Once upon a time there was a book, and in the book was a nest, and in the nest was an egg, and in the egg was a dragon, and in the dragon was a story."

Scotland on Sunday has some guesses about who the mysterious artist might be, but most people are content to enjoy the mystery. To libraries, books, words, and ideas!
posted by sarahnade (21 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Viral advertising? Maybe. It could just be someone having fun by creating a little mystery. Regardless of the intent, I like it.
posted by codacorolla at 11:47 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


it was Edward James Olmos!
posted by Spock Puppet at 11:56 AM on July 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'd seen the nesting dragon but didn't know about the rest. I hope they don't figure out who it is. As long as it's a mystery, it seems like there might be more sculptures to come, whereas fingering the sculptor might bring them to an end.
posted by immlass at 11:59 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought librarians would be outraged by books being cut up.

Shows what I know.

The sculpture is excellent; however!
posted by Renoroc at 12:25 PM on July 17, 2011


Generally, whoever first "noticed" that there was more than one, is in on it. (He who smelt it...), because humans (frustratingly) normally only notice the one under their nose, and word doesn't spread enough that any one person is aware of enough similar events to link them together, at least not without a little help. Maybe this case is different. But usually, people need some prompting to get the story going.
posted by anonymisc at 1:08 PM on July 17, 2011


As an aside: is Rankin worth reading? I've been in to detective fiction lately, but the Wikipedia summary of his work didn't do very much for me.
posted by codacorolla at 1:33 PM on July 17, 2011


From the links it looks like Rankin told the Filmhouse Cinema about the first sculpture when they tweeted about the third, and it doesn't seem suspicious that he would know, as each receiving organisation would be likely to let him know. Is the quote on the Filmhouse sculpture about cinema, movies and magic being associated from a Rankin novel?
posted by paduasoy at 1:34 PM on July 17, 2011


As an aside: is Rankin worth reading?

Definitely--I'd say that he and Reginald Hill are by far the most interesting of the UK's contemporary mystery novelists as novelists.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:38 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought librarians would be outraged by books being cut up.

Shows what I know.


Librarians are generally not sentimentally attached to books as artifacts, but rather as a concept. In a real, working library, books are constantly damaged, repaired, and replaced. The day-to-day workings of the institution are much more focused on providing access to knowledge, rather than the books themselves.
posted by sonic meat machine at 1:50 PM on July 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Librarians are generally not sentimentally attached to books as artifacts, but rather as a concept. In a real, working library, books are constantly damaged, repaired, and replaced. The day-to-day workings of the institution are much more focused on providing access to knowledge, rather than the books themselves.

It's true. In fact, Altered Books is a fairly common adult/teen program across the country. This is especially effective with the huge backlog of donated books that can't be book-saled, put into the catalog, or donated effectively. It raises awareness of the library, gives the community a fun activity, produces a lasting object associated with a positive library experience, and shows that librarians aren't up-tight book fetishists (although they might very well be!)
posted by codacorolla at 2:40 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok; I guess they won't mind if the book is too damaged to be of use to a reader.
posted by Renoroc at 3:54 PM on July 17, 2011


Rain lashed viciously at the windows. Rebus swallowed a mouthful of Deuchars IPA, hoping it would dull the pain.

"So what gave you the clue?" DS Siobhan Clarke was drinking her usual mixture of Lucozade and Irn-Bru.

"Simple." Rebus lit a second cigarette. "Rankin claimed he had no idea who was making the paper sculptures. But he admitted they were by somebody who knew his work. The answer had to be in there somewhere."

"You mean .. you read Rankin's novels?"

'All of them." Rebus winced at the memory. "But I found what I was looking for. These paper sculptures .. we were meant to think they were some art student's prank. But Rankin's novels showed me they were something more."

"You mean .. dark, brooding yet somehow playful, filled with self-conscious allusions to Gothic fiction, film noir and 1970s prog rock?"

"Not just allusions, Siobhan. A metaphor!" Rebus almost spat the word. "A fucking metaphor for the state of Scotland in the twenty-first century!"

Outside, the rain was still falling, as the new Scottish Parliament building loomed over the ancient tenements. Inside, there was music playing on the jukebox. Rebus recognised it as Hawkwind's 'Streets of Fear'.

"And there's only one person who could be behind this." Rebus drained his pint and stood up. 'Come on, Siobhan. We're going to pay a call on Big Ger Cafferty."
posted by verstegan at 4:19 PM on July 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


This actually reminds me of one of Rankin's books. Isn't there one that starts with the discovery of these posed dolls in boxes in various places.

As an aside: is Rankin worth reading? I've been in to detective fiction lately, but the Wikipedia summary of his work didn't do very much for me.

I like it, for whatever that's worth. I am generally a fan of the police procedural. I'm kind of 'eh' when it comes to Reginald Hill, though.
posted by hoyland at 4:33 PM on July 17, 2011


@verstegan--Perhaps you could do a follow up to Exit Music. Damn good--excellent for spur of the moment unless you have been doing the paper sculptures.

codacorolla--Definitely worth reading--as you might sense he is extremely popular in the UK and has become an integral part of the lore of Edinburgh. Popular though he maybe he is an excellent craftsman, excels at developing his characters and captures the sense of being in Edinburgh. I read many many mysteries. he certainly would be in my tpo 10 if not 5. Not necessary but best read in sequence as the characters do change over time.
posted by rmhsinc at 5:01 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the links it looks like Rankin told the Filmhouse Cinema about the first sculpture when they tweeted about the third,

Mystery solved: Rankin is doing viral marketing.

and it doesn't seem suspicious that he would know, as each receiving organisation would be likely to let him know.

Really?! I used to work in a library. If such a sculpture appeared, made out of an old book, it wouldn't seem pertinent to me to inform whoever happened to be the author of whatever old book happened to be used as the raw materials. Perhaps I would be prompted by someone's response, asking me the name of the book used, and the info would come out that way. Prompted by someone with an interest in prompting their narrative.

This doesn't mean I don't approve. It sounds like Rankin is doing a great job :)
posted by anonymisc at 5:05 PM on July 17, 2011


anonymisc, I thought these were peculiar enough and as obviously linked to Rankin that someone would let him know, but may be being naive.
posted by paduasoy at 5:36 AM on July 18, 2011


It was the Origami Killer, clearly.
posted by spamguy at 9:28 AM on July 18, 2011


a) Ian Rankin is fantastic. If you like detective novels, you owe it to yourself to check him out.

b) If this is viral marketing for a new Rebus book, I am going to jump for frickin' joy.
posted by Zozo at 9:30 AM on July 18, 2011


Mystery solved: Rankin is doing viral marketing.

Seems likely - he's quite the self-promoter. There was a while here in the UK where he seemed to be on the TV everyday with "what next for Rebus", "Rebus's favorite songs", "a Rebus tour of Glasgow", "how this movie compares to Rebus" ...
posted by outlier at 11:47 AM on July 18, 2011


My God, the utter tweeness of it all - what an incredibly pretentious undertaking.

The Filmhouse, don't get me started on the bloody Filmhouse, staffed entirely by public school hipper than thou Morningside wanks, the Fking lot of them.

You can be sure no public library in muirhouse will be getting one of these charming tweedy art pieces.

However, Ian Rankin is a completely sound bloke who I have shared a few moments with him and Harry etc

My friend was round his house last sunday, so there you go.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:37 PM on July 18, 2011


I love mysteries like this! I hope it's never solved.
posted by deborah at 12:27 AM on July 19, 2011


« Older Want to make your own bee beard? This video from t...  |  Los 33: Chilean miners face up... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments