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Notes From a Public Typewriter by Michael…
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Notes From a Public Typewriter

by Michael Gustafson

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566327,589 (4.33)1
A collection of confessional, hilarious, heartbreaking notes written anonymously on a public typewriter for fans of PostSecret and Other People's Love Letters. When Michael Gustafson and his wife Hilary opened Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they put out a typewriter for anyone to use. They had no idea what to expect. Would people ask metaphysical questions? Write mean things? Pour their souls onto the page? Yes, no, and did they ever. Every day, people of all ages sit down at the public typewriter. Children perch atop grandparents' knees, both sets of hands hovering above the metal keys: I LOVE YOU. Others walk in alone on Friday nights and confess their hopes: I will find someone someday. And some leave funny asides for the next person who sits down: I dislike people, misanthropes, irony, and ellipses ... and lists too. In NOTES FROM A PUBLIC TYPEWRITER Michael and designer Oliver Uberti have combined their favorite notes with essays and photos to create an ode to community and the written word that will surprise, delight, and inspire.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This is a book meant to be devoured and then savored on a second read.

The idea of publishing notes left by anonymous people on typewriters in an independent bookstore is gimmicky, but the way the Gustafson orders the messages and includes his own miniature essays keeps the book just this side of artifice. ( )
  Bodagirl | Jan 22, 2019 |
A collection of comments typed by customers at the Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which makes a typewriter (and paper) available for public use. I confess I wasn’t eager to read it. I’m not a big believer in the wisdom of what used to be called “the man on the street,” regardless of sex, and there are so many ways a book like this could go wrong, starting with cloying sentimentality and moving on to cutesiness, bad jokes, and unrecognized quotations mistaken for original wisdom when neither. But I’m a typewriter enthusiast, and fortunately, I was surprised. The bookstore owners are smart people and attract interesting patrons. The bookstore logo is a typewriter, and people bring them typewriters, and after a while they hired an artist to cover an exterior wall with the writing they’ve collected.

The quotes are pretty good, although many people can’t resist reaching for an aphorism. Kids are always typewriters’ biggest fans, and they make several of the best contributions.

Ultimately, this is a love story to the bookstore and its customers—not to typewriters. The author tells the story of a woman who donated a Hermes 3000 to the store.


“If we put this typewriter out, be warned: It’s a death sentence,” I said. “Once a typewriter goes public, it’s got six months.”

I showed her our beautiful ruins—typewriters maligned by public use. They get knocked over; carriages malfunction; hammers bend. Many customers type too fast. The keys jam. In an attempt to fix those keys, a type-bar link detaches….I know all public typewriters will break eventually. When they do, we set some in our store window overlooking the sidewalk. The Boulevard of Broken Typewriters. It’s a nice view, at least.


There are stories interspersed with the typed bits: of how the typewriters connected a local street character with a seven-year-old boy, of a typewritten marriage proposal, of ghosts in the bookstore. They’re pretty good. It’s a testament to the author’s character that stories are about people in all their quirkiness and not about his own taste and wit.

There are several photos of a beautiful Rheinmetall machine, a make I have yet to see in person. In one of the photos, a customer has typed:

fart fart fa rt fa rt fart fart fart

My instincts about people are confirmed after all. ( )
1 vote john.cooper | Jul 29, 2018 |
Love the premise behind this short, quick but surprisingly meaningful book. Literati bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan , and a typewriter that anyone can use. Notes and messages, thoughts people live behind. I just kept thinking what would I type if no one knew who was typing and leaving the message. Some were funny, some poignant, some celebratory, some surprisingly intimate.

There is a little more than just these notes though, such as the fate of many Indie bookstores. How he and his wife came to own the shop, and what the building had been in the past. Interesting reading.

These few messages stood out for me.

As a mother this one made me chuckle.
My son thinks that I am a genius because I know how to type.......
Finally he is impressed with me.

Another amusing one that I can imagine many student typing, especially in today's techie world.
If I had to write a five paragraph essay on this thing, I would withdraw from middle school.

I was impressed with his comma usage though.

Last but not least a sentiment many of us share.
Maybe one day we will write enough books and read enough words to understand each other.
I hope.

So many more and such a wonderful way to spend a little time, and to be reminded of the power of words. ( )
  Beamis12 | Jun 1, 2018 |
My Takeaway

"Life, like this typewriter, has no backspace. Type strongly and don't look back."
Notes from a Public Typewriter

Occasionally, a book comes along you simply fall in love with and folks, we have a winner here! I learned about Notes from a Public Typewriter from an article featured on NPR. I unquestionably love my local indie bookstores and do my best to promote and support them. What better homage than buying a book from a local indie store about another indie bookstore?! I read this lovely book in one short sitting. It is such a charming little book filled with pictures, short passages, quotes and outlooks on life and of course books. Some are truly silly, while others seep deep into your heart. This book will be permanently placed on my coffee table and I already know I will buy extra copies to give as gifts. If I ever make it to Ann Arbor, the Literati Bookstore will be my #1 goal. I just wonder, what will I type? ( )
  debbiesbooknook | Apr 27, 2018 |
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