The Province of the Author as Recorder

Simon Bell

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    When the UK Health Service rationalised its Warwickshire provision in 2006, two hospitals were decommissioned. This author was appointed, as Writer-in-Residence, to produce a book documenting the process. This is an ongoing project containing reports, articles, and interview transcripts, with new material being woven around existing material and spaces, and is entirely handwritten by the author. Many texts have unforced errors, and transcripts punctuation schemes reflecting pauses, hesitations, breaks and restarts. But readers can only guess timing (and other nuances of gestured meaning) from context. This is unreliable practice, because careful – yet insensitive – readers may feel that testimonies are undermined by these impositions of visual and syntactical order. This paper champions the value of this book, despite the putative instability of some of its texts. Its status as a work in progress, and its mixture of both random and controlled juxtapositions, should draw in and gratify active readers. There is also original prose and poetry in the book emerging as a result of the process, yet the subversion of the familiar forms of both the book and of documentation itself could mean that fiction is seen as more reliable than fact, prompting us to question our prejudices and expectations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)53-60
    JournalThe International Journal of the Book
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Bibliographical note

    This paper was originally given as a presentation at the 6th International Conference on the Book, Washington D.C., 2008.
    The publisher of this article is Common Ground publishing. Readers must contact Common Ground for permission to reproduce


    • Documentation/Accuracy
    • Familiarity/Tradition
    • Book Form
    • Stolid Fiction
    • Alluring Fact


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