Building Stories

December 2, 2013

Drawings by Chris Ware with text by Klaus.


Published by Pantheon in 2012 after a decade in the making, Building Stories is a technical tour de force both in terms of narrative and in the use of format where Ware (unintended cacophony) challenges the reader with a non-linear, multi-faceted narrative, told from multiple points of view via a variety of different vehicles. The final object, which includes parts previously published in Acme Novelty Library #18 (2007), The New Yorker, Nest magazine, Kramers Ergot, The Chicago Reader, Hangar 21 Magazine, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, McSweeney’s iPad app and The New York Times Magazine, comes in the form of a box (itself a readable surface) containing fourteen other pieces. Among them, the reader/bricoleur can find cloth-bound books, newspapers, broadsheets and flipbooks (in all, four broadsheets, three magazines, two strips, two pamphlets, a four-panel storyboard, a hardcover book, and a book mimicking a Little Golden Book), which he is challenged to piece together with the disputable help of the diagrams printed in the inside of the box. Building Stories has been named one of the best books of the year by New York Times Book Review, Time Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly, a deserved recognition that is also somewhat of a misfire, for a piece that is less of a book than a work located in a vague terrain somewhere between the experiments of OuBaPo, Joseph Cornell’s boxes and Marcel Duchamp’s Box in a Valise.

Mas issue narrative building stories 01

Spring. © Chris Ware.

Mas issue narrative building stories 02

Summer. © Chris Ware.

Mas issue narrative building stories 03

Fall. © Chris Ware.

Mas issue narrative building stories 04

Winter. © Chris Ware.