Book Review: Notes From a Public Typewriter

Review written by Mary Jedlicka Humston

“Where’s the power button?”
“I’m scared I’ll spend half my life deciding what to do with it and the other half regretting that choice.”
“I just want to push your buttons.”
“What is the password?”
“Avoid identity theft. Use a typewriter. They are much harder to hack.”
“I will find someone someday.”
“Cancer sucks.”
Intrigued by the statements above? If so, you’re sure to love Notes from a Public Typewriter by Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti. This cute, little fire-engine red book has dozens of comments that were typed on an old manual typewriter resting atop a simple table, with a straight-back chair and floor lamp beside it.

notes from public typewriter
The typewriter resides on the lower level inside Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, operated by Michael and Hilary Gustafson. This independent bookstore opened in the spring of 2013 in response to a long held dream the co-owners shared.
The public typewriter experiment was just that….an experiment. Would customers take time to type out notes? If so, what words would they leave? Poetry? Random thoughts? Jokes? Gustafson even wondered if some people would even know how to use this now-antiquated machine.

The experiment took off. Typed pages of notes accumulated to the point that Gustafson was encouraged to write a book to display some of his and coauthor Uberti’s favorite comments.

Notes from a Public Typewriter is that book. It is filled with funny, serious, clever, heartbreaking, and personal notes. Colored photographs (with a small number of black and whites) add to the book, as do the short vignettes Gustafson pens.

I loved this book. I thought I would read it in short snips of time. And, that’s how it started out since I was in the middle of reading another book when I first thumbed through it. Soon, I found myself so engaged, I sat down in my favorite chair and read the rest of the book in one sitting. Regardless of how you choose to read Notes from a Public Typewriter, I hope you’ll find it as enjoyable as I did.

Here’s one final typed note that I loved:” Life, like this typewriter, has no backspace. Type strongly and don’t look back.”


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