If the old adage a picture is worth a thousand words is true, then Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral is longer than War and Peace. In fact if a picture =1,000 how many words does a Youtube video count for? Chopsticks was unlike any other book I’ve ever read. This makes sense because there was very little reading going on, and I didn’t have the book I was looking through the app.
I think that the cover has “A Novel” written on it is telling. Without this characterization, I doubt I would have considered it one. The set up for the book is simple: motherless musical prodigy is enamored with the boy next door, add overprotective father and watch the complications ensue. The way the story is told is anything but simple. There are very few words in Chopsticks, which is instead comprised of photographs, drawings, instant message conversations, music mixes, and youtube videos. The book also deals with themes of music, art, mental illness, and immigration. With the song “chopsticks” featured throughout the book.
I can’t speak to the experience of reading the book, which I’ve heard is good and includes links to Internet content, but going through the app was a really fun and exciting experience. The interactive elements held my interest. Moving the pictures around, seeing what people had underlined in newspaper clippings, and reading the IM conversations in real time felt voyeuristic, in a good way.
Another main strength of the book is the way the “reader” feels like they are solving a mystery Sherlock Holmes style just by following the narrative. This is probably narcissistic, but being able to follow the narrative without words made me feel so clever.
The book is also incredibly beautiful and intentional. It is a quick read (turns out it is faster to look at photo than read a thousand words). So if you want to take a break from reading and read between the lines instead I suggest you pick up the book or download the app.