Do not read this book. Seriously. Do not read Beautiful Words by Nik Perring. This unorthodox manner of opening a review of this collection of words, some meanings and some fictions is not meant as some tricksy reverse psychology. I genuinely do not want you to read this book.
Let me be clear though. I like Nik Perring, I like Nik Perring’s writing, I like this book. I like this book very much. The reason I do not want you to read this book is that to just read this book is to miss not so much the point of the volume as the very heart of it. This picture book for adults is a genuinely unique little book (at least until the two remaining volumes, Beautiful Trees and Beautiful Shapes are published later this year) and requires you do both less and more than simply read it.
There are twenty-six short passages in the book, one for each of the beautiful words. Some have been selected for the way they look, some the way they sound, some for their obscure nature, still others for their power. Each passage explains, in varying levels of detail, a combination of the words meaning and the reason for its selection. Each word is beautifully illustrated by Miranda Sofroniou, and the book itself is presented in a square format that further draws comparisons to a picture book for young readers. Which is fitting as it is, I think, meant to be read in the same manner that young readers read their picture books. It is meant to be repeated, to be shared, to be experienced.
But this not a picture book for kids. Seriously. It has the word fuck in it for a start. But that isn’t what makes this book live up to the picture book for adults tag line. It is the ‘some fictions too’ bit from the subtitle that does this. Each entry has an element of fiction woven into the definitions and descriptions of each words beauty, a narrative that emerges slowly and non-chronologically it seems, a narrative that drags the reader into the middle of itself through a clever and strategic use of the second person pronoun, a narrative that builds into a subtle and intriguing depiction of a relationship that unfolds as if from some elaborate origami structure into a piece of prose still bearing the creases of its former form.
All of which should explain exactly why you should not read this book. You should lie back and imbibe it. You should stroll through it with you fingers. You should leap back and forth across the whole span of the alphabet, make bold connections between the entries that are furthest apart. Most of all, once you have visited each and every one of the twenty-six words, you should not consider this book as having been read. You should keep it on the coffee table, by the phone, or maybe put it in the glove box of your car, slip into a friend’s bag, or place it by the bedside of a loved one, so that either you or someone else can be surprised by it later on, return to it, stroll again through its words and images and meanings and declarations.
So, to conclude, do not read Beautiful Words. And having not read it do not regard this book as a good read or indeed as something you have read and therefore finished. Rather think of it as what it is, an emotionally engaging experience that should be repeated.
Nik Perring is a short story writer and author from the UK. His stories have been published in many fine places both in the UK and abroad, in print and online. They’ve been used on High School distance learning courses in the US, printed on fliers, and recorded for radio. Nik is the author of the children’s book, I Met a Roman Last Night, What Did You Do? (EPS, 2006); the short story collection, Not So Perfect (Roastbooks 2010); and he’s the co-author of Freaks! (The Friday Project/HarperCollins, 2012). His online home is www.nikperring.com and he’s on Twitter as @nikperring