Warren Lehrer

Illuminated novel written, designed and illustrated by Warren Lehrer.
Some illustrations made in collaboration with Melina Rodrigo Smyres, Donna Chang, Jonathon Rosen.
Published 2013 by Goff Books.
Hardcover, 7.5” x 9.75”, 380 page, 4 color throughout, smythe sewn, printed on acid free paper.

A LIFE IN BOOKS: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley is an illuminated novel that contains 101 books within it, all written and designed by Lehrer’s [fictional] author-protagonist, Bleu Mobley. Nearly a year after the controversial author is thrown into prison for refusing to reveal the name of a confidential source, he decides to break his silence. But it’s not as simple as giving up a name to the grand jury. 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. In A LIFE IN BOOKS: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, Mobley’s autobiography/apologia is paired with a review of all 101 of his books. Each book is represented by its first edition cover design and catalog copy, and 34 of the books are excerpted. The resulting retrospective contrasts the published writings (which read like short stories) with the author’s confessional memoir, forming a most unusual portrait of a well-intentioned, obsessively inventive (but ethically challenged) visionary.

Written and designed by Warren Lehrer, A LIFE IN BOOKS is a unique 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 celebrates the mysteries and contradictions of the creative process, grapples with the future of the book as a medium and the lines that separate and blur truth, myth, and fiction. The printed book is enhanced by films and animations which are part of the traveling exhibition, are incorporated into Warren Lehrer’s A LIFE IN BOOKS performance/talk, and can be accessed online.

Winner of 9 Awards including Independent Publisher’s Outstanding Book of the Year Award, the International Book Award for Best New Fiction, and a Print Magazine Regional Design Award.

ISBN 978-1-939621-02-3 Distributed by PGW (Publishers Group West)

sample pages, page spreads, details, bleu mobley book covers

Some Mobley book covers and A LIFE IN BOOKS page details

A few titles published under Mobley’s (self-help) nom de plume Dr. Sky Jacobs

A LIFE IN BOOKS can also be used as a teaching tool: as a text and a resource in Creative Writing, College Freshman Writing, Writing for Artists, Writing for Designers, Graphic Design, Illustration, Book Arts, Fiction Writing, Short Story Writing, Ethics, Semiotics, and Critical Issues (in Contemporary Literature and Art) classes, as well as for workshops in Unleashing Creativity, or any of the above subjects.

With the help of a STUDY GUIDE, students use A LIFE IN BOOKS as a point of departure to generate their own book or multimedia project ideas, titles, catalog copy, cover designs, and book excerpts. By developing book ideas laterally, writing titles, catalog copy, and then excerpts (of short story length), students build confidence incrementally, leading them to more long form writing. Appropriate for beginning, intermediate, advanced liberal arts and studio arts students. Classes could also choose to participate in the A LIFE IN BOOKS Writing Contest, or select a particular Bleu Mobley title of their choosing to complete as a class or interdisciplinary set of classes.

As a text, A LIFE IN BOOKS presents a panoramic view of a paradoxical and multi-cultural America spanning 50 years in the life of Bleu Mobley, the people in his life and the characters in his books. It stimulates thought and discussion about the relationship between a writer/artist and the work they produce. Ethical dilemmas are raised throughout A LIFE IN BOOKS, as is the quest for freedom and the prospect of sacrificing freedom(s) for a greater cause.

The videos, additional text excerpts (not included in the printed edition), interviews, articles, and other supplemental materials—including the Exhibition and Warren Lehrer’s Performance/Reading can also be used to study and discuss A LIFE IN BOOKS, and serve as an example of how creative writing can manifest itself beyond the confines of a book through other media.

INQUIRE about using the book/A LIFE IN BOOKS project as a teaching tool.
FIND OUT MORE about the performance and traveling exhibition.
VISIT the A LIFE IN BOOKS project website.
BUY the book now!