WARREN LEHRER / A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley
A performance, a reading, with images, animations, and filmed elements:
“Brilliant, beautiful, delicious for eyes and mind.”— Andrei Codrescu
Artist Warren Lehrer has made an extraordinarily original exploration of one man’s use of books as a means of understanding himself, the people around him, and a half-century of American/global events. It not only celebrates the mysteries and contradictions of the creative process, it grapples with the future of the book as a medium, and the lines that separate truth, myth, and ﬁction.
A LIFE IN BOOKS is an illuminated novel -- with 101 books contained within it, all written by Lehrer’s protagonist, Bleu Mobley, who ﬁnds himself in prison looking back on his life and career. Over the course of one long night, in the darkness of his prison cell, he whispers his life story into a microcassette recorder, tracing his journey from the public housing project of his youth, to a career as a journalist, then experimental novelist, college professor, accidental bestselling author, pop-culture pundit, and unindicted prisoner.
Bleu Mobley’s autobiography/apologia is paired with a review of all 101 of his books, each represented by its ﬁrst edition cover design and catalog copy, and more than a third of his books are excerpted. The resulting retrospective contrasts the published writings (which read like short stories) with the confessional memoir, forming a most unusual portrait of a well-intentioned, obsessively inventive (if ethically challenged) visionary. A masterful fusion of art and literature, A LIFE IN BOOKS distinguishes itself as one of those books you’ll want to hold in your hands, feast your eyes on, read and re-read, share with friends, and treasure for years to come.
Warren Lehrer is a writer and designer, acclaimed for capturing the shape of thought and reuniting the traditions of storytelling with the printed page. Known internationally as a pioneer in the ﬁelds of visual literature and design authorship, he has received many awards for his books and multimedia projects, including the Brendan Gill Prize, the Innovative Use of Archives Award, three AIGA Book Awards, two Type Director’s Club awards, The International Book Design Award, a Media That Matters Award, and grants and fellowships from the NEA, NYSCA, NYFA, the Rockefeller, Ford, and Greenwall Foundations. His work is in many collections including MoMA, LA County Art Museum, The Getty Museum, Georges Pompidou Centre, and Tate Gallery. Also a performer and playwright, he is a professor at Purchase College, SUNY, and a founding faculty member of the Designer As Author grad program at SVA. Together with Judith Sloan, Lehrer co-authored Crossing the BLVD and co-founded EarSay, a non-proﬁt arts organization in Queens, NY. A Life In Books is Lehrer’s tenth book and his first novel.
If you'd like a taste, here are two treats for you: