Mavis's Shoe

Author of two novels and a creative memoir.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Things to do with Mavis's Shoe once you've read it

This is a picture of one of the many things you can do with your copy of Mavis's Shoe once you've finished reading it. This was made by my beautiful daughter (biased mum, I admit it) out of hers. Some may feel this has all the sacrilege of smashing pianos at the shows, a practice now all but extinct, but this right to destruction has been earned. Firstly this copy has been read by her from cover to cover. Secondly this daughter read Mavis's Shoe in one of its earliest drafts and gave me some very helpful advice, but perhaps more importantly, encouragement. Thirdly, it's hers to do with what she will. Fourthly, I have a few more copies in a box under my desk. Fifthly, it's very beautiful, like her.

The lovely thing about this is that when I light the fire which is directly underneath it, I know the little hearts will dance.

This is something else, rather similar, you can do with the pages of Mavis's Shoe, although do make sure you read the whole book first otherwise you may miss out on various important events therein. These are not Mavis's Shoe pages but print-outs of various bits of writing by me, poems, short-stories and other general nonsense which were then folded origami-style into swans by my other beautiful daughter. (Lucky me, I have two.) They were hung from threads in large numbers from the lights at a certain important birthday a couple of years ago and completely took my breath away. They moved to a fireplace without a fire (as in this picture) and then back home over the little stove in the room where I work. Being hung on thread they eventually succumbed to human clumsiness and now live in a box. This is why I know the love-hearts will dance; because the swans already flew.

I'm told they're quite simple to make and were certainly a good alternative for some of those pieces to never being published.

This is what Alicia Martin might have done with Mavis's Shoe if she had enough copies. This is one of her book sculptures in Madrid. 5000 books were used for 3 sculptures. This seems a tiny bit excessive and very like burning money. Can she honestly say 'no books were harmed in the making of this work'? But it is also books in an irresistible form somehow. I have no idea what point she's making. Perhaps her aim is simply to make us stand and gape at the size and madness of the thing. Apparently the pages are loose and whisper in the wind, perhaps reciting their contents.

Here's a Utube video of something else you could do if you had lots of books and lots of time. This one will re-acquaint you with all those books you search the shelves for but somehow just can't find. I do sometimes think it might be fun to colour code my books, a red shelf, a purple one, blue etc rainbow style and then I think it might be more useful to have them in alphabetic order, but probably those two options would ruin the prevailing library technique I already operate, namely books arrive here and find a semi-logical place and it becomes theirs. I usually know roughly where they are.


  1. Hello! We'd rather people bought the books and reflected on them, sharing comments, rather than cutting them up! Or take them to Oxfam and let someone else read them.

  2. Also, try the book sculpture in somewhere like wet Glasgow and it wouldnae last long!

  3. Hello Anonymous. Very true on the book sculpture in Glasgow. These sculptures are also blasphemy to any book lover.

    Much as I love my daughter's book bunting, of course I'd rather people re-read Mavis's Shoe. I know someone who has read hers three and a half times at last count. Any advance on that?