- New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2016.
- 10.5 x 8 inches
- Cloth, dust jacket
- 232 pages
- ISBN: 9781584563549
Price: $65.00 other currencies
Order Nr. 128359
"Alastair Johnston's engaging and all-embracing survey of California printing takes us from its early beginnings in the 1870s (San Francisco's first type foundry opened in 1874), and covers all the printers we encountered in California, including himself, and a great many others besides."
- John Randle, Matrix
"Through the lens of Johnson's expertise, we again see how fine art printing coexists with the design of tinned salmon labels and business cards, or how hand-compositing became simultaneously a mainstay of advertising and a 'philosophy of design'."
- Samuel Rogers, MLR
"Johnston is well situated to view the various intersections of of printing and literature in his adopted state ... Structured chronologically, each of the thirty-one chapters is devoted to one or more significant figures in the book arts, selected to represent a particular decade or era.... This survey can serve as an inspiration to researchers studying and documenting printing history and the book arts in other states... and beyond."
- Daniel J. Slive, PBSA, June, 2018
"Generously illustrated throughout, for some the book may be an introduction to a legendary world, for others a reminder of the bookshops they haunted in early years, the first purchases of underground literature, the poetry readings that filled great halls as well as small coffee shops, the profound impact of the printed word throughout the twentieth century."
- The Book Collector, Spring 2017
California is the Golden State, well-known for its innovators and for attracting writers, artists, and dreamers from all over the world. Where else would you find a magazine devoted to "gourmet bathing" or a back-room Prohibition-era bar ("the Sob Den") for printers? Where else a print shop on a Los Angeles hillside where composer John Cage popped in to practice piano and Disney artists dropped by to drink beer and sketch from a live model?
Come along on a fantastic trip through 150 years of the book arts in California, from its roots in the late 19th century to the 21st, from Gelett Burgess and The Lark to Mark Head and the Mixlexic Press. Meet a cast of hundreds, from Max Schmidt, a Prussian sailor, to Yone Noguchi, the first Japanese poet to be published in English. Meet Florence Lundborg, muralist and painter, and Idah Strobridge, writer and bookbinder. Encounter Conscientious Objectors like Bill Everson and Clifford Burke and conscripted soldiers like Jack Stauffacher and Arne Wolf, Anarchists from the Rexroth circle, Pacifists like Kenneth Patchen, Hippies, Diggers, Hipsters, Beatniks, and Buddhists. Witness the explosion of art in the 1950s, the small presses of the 1960s and 70s, and the birth of the artists book at the end of the twentieth century as Californians found self-expression using every printed medium from comix to fine press books.
Reflecting the lively writing style, chapter titles include: "Shirtless on Sansome Street," "Tobacchanalian Revels," "Conversation at Haywood's," "The Laureate of Doomed Youth," "The Last Gasp of the Checkered Demon," and "Teetering on the Brink." Designed by the author, Dreaming on the Edge is lavishly illustrated in color.
Alastair Johnston immigrated to California in 1970 and was party to the exploding field of book arts. With Frances Butler, he founded Poltroon Press. From 1986 until 2004, Johnston also edited The Ampersand, a book arts quarterly. His knowledge of the book arts, along with a passion for history, uniquely qualifies him to write about the art of the book in California.