• Betty Bastai

Silence in October Unblocked My Artist’s Block

Updated: Jul 19, 2020



December 25, 2019: Since I moved to Albuquerque in August 2018 I had been suffering from an artist’s block. On Christmas Day I felt rather lonely (none of my family members lives in the US) so I decided to go out for a walk and found myself in the neighborhood where I discovered the novel Silence in October. The book was resting on the middle shelf of a charming and colorful little free library. The subject of the story and the author’s nationality compelled me to take him* home. After reading the first 130 pages, my “frozen” creative juices warmed up and I began to develop the idea for Memory Loop.

*I have decided to attribute the masculine object pronoun “him” to this book and all the others that I will read in the future for the Memory Loop action art project. Why? Because the Italian word for book is libro, which is masculine.

January 18, 2020: I typed a letter to reader # 1 with a manual typewriter that I had bought at an antique store in Washington State several years ago. It was a slow process because I had to be careful not to hurt myself by missing the old-fashioned keys. Moreover, the carriage return was sluggish and changed the space between the lines of text without warning, and sometimes I had to dislodge two typebars that got stuck together.


January 19: I had a lot of fun folding the letter into an origami square letter and the handwritten instructions into origami heart-shaped bookmarks. With a sense of excitement I put the letter and bookmarks inside the book and re-shelved him inside a little free library that I call LFL 1.



April 17: As far as I know, Silence in October has not shown up in any of the local little free libraries, yet. No other reader has contacted me via email about the book. I have no idea what happened to him. I cannot help wondering: Was the book forced to relocate to a distant neighborhood? Has he gone on a trip around the world and now is in quarantine? Or is he bored helplessly sitting on a bookshelf inside a nearby house?


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Thank You and Happy Reading!

Memory Loop Action Art Project/Book 1


Silence in October


Author: Jens Christian Grøndahl

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Year: 2000

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