The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 2 by hitRECord, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and wirrow

Because I really enjoyed the first volume of The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, I looked forward to reading the second installment. Though it is a bit longer this time around, I found that I liked it, but perhaps not as much as I thought I would.

For those not already familiar, hitRECord is a collaborative project founded by Joseph Gordon-Levitt where artists – visual, musical, writer or otherwise – can add their work to the site and everyone can come together to create a larger project. When those projects are produced and make money, hitRECord and the creators split the profit 50/50.

Tiny Stories is a project started by Gordon-Levitt and the artist wirrow, and this volume has 62 contributors, with some repeats, in its 128 pages. Unlike with the previous edition, Gordon-Levitt’s writing contributions are limited to the introduction, but wirrow has several pieces throughout the book. One can usually spot them without flipping back to the “Resources” index because they tend to have black backgrounds and handwritten text. There are some exceptions:

Line drawing of someone with their head in their hands. Above is handwritten, "i was having a day nap and i had a dream that you bought me a dragon egg and I woke up and said Where's my dragon egg? and you were like What dragon egg? and I slowly remembered and said Oh nothing and felt stupid"
(click to enlarge)

Again, the contributors have handles like “Metaphorest” and “TheSerpentTheCharmer:”

"The hat was new; the downpour perpetual." Artwork of a tiny raincloud raining on a top hat worn by a man without a face.
(click to enlarge)

Or “cacheth:”

Drawing of a girl cutting out the moon and stars, saying "Damn things always keep me awake."
(click to enlarge)

And very few use their (presumably) real names. There is one famous person lurking within the records: Sean Ono Lennon. He and wirrow collaborate on a black and red piece with text that is quite reminiscent of his parentage:

And when the day is done
I will follow you into the sun.

Some of the artwork is really beautiful, and some of these very, very short stories are quite thought-provoking (“I am tired of being tired of being tired of being”), but too many rely on cutesy wordplay or visual puns. Some of that is fine. A little twee never hurt anybody, but some of them had me saying,” Stop it. You’re not that clever.” (“The right shoe left, knowing that the left shoe was right.”)

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Vol. 2 (cover)That’s not to say this is a bad book. No, overall, I still liked it, just not as much as the first one. I wonder if perhaps I was won over by the novelty of the first volume, as I’ve not reread it since then, but if memory serves, it was a lovely little book. Forgive me – Tiny, I mean. Its 4×6 trim size and cover like an old textbook is quite satisfying to hold in my hands. I’ll still want to read Volume 3, work on which is already underway. I do hope that the next installment expands its vision. The pages, both in size and amount, can stay the same, but I hope the content does not think it can get off so easily. By Volume 3, it’s time to incrementally evolve.


Full Disclosure: !t Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, sent me this book. I thank them for the gesture and I will continue to be fair with my reviews.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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