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Contact With Shadow

The above video was made for a Kickstarter project to get Contact With Shadow funded. It was likely the first Singapore-based crowdfunding project, and it fell far short of its goal. No one in Singapore really understood what crowdfunding was, I had no 'fans", unknown writer, it was not easy to send money, etc. etc. I learned a lot.

Contact With Shadow combines a history of printing in Singapore with one man's intense grief. Molecular food figures prominently as well.

Contact With Shadow is on Unglue.it

CONTACT WITH SHADOW

Full of an insane amount of grief, Singaporean history, printing press lore and sweet memories of love, to read Contact With Shadow is to experience loss-- and redemption.
The story: a Cambridge research student comes to Singapore to learn about the island's pre-Linotype printing history. His wife, an amateur chef, is killed by lightning. Overwhelmed with a sense of loss, he struggles to write his thesis. More often than not, his words are about the woman he loved. A bureaucratic "assistant" enters the picture, as does a Hollywood producer...
Contact With Shadow is an experience, not just a reading experience.

"It's a double pleasure to read this... First, there's the joy of gleaning nuggets of knowledge about Singapore and the printed word hitherto unknown; and second, there's the childlike wonder of never knowing what Stephen Black has in store for us on the next page."

~ Ng Yi-Sheng, 2008 Winner of the Singapore Literature Prize

The cover was created by Debbie Ding and Shazanah Hassan.

There was once an exhibition about Contact With Shadow
at the WOODS IN THE BOOKS Bookshop (Singapore)

WRITING SAMPLES

It grew from the ground and the grass punched her and the metal on her sandals sparked. Her jeans opened as I watched her hair change. My wife was in the air. Her mouth distorted as the muscles around her eyes bulged and creased. The brightness disappeared. Still in the air, her fingers stretched as though someone’d yanked a wire in her arm. She fell and I ran to her in the sound of the bang. I touched her lips.

.....

I feel this project is my lifework. I mourn the loss of the handwritten letter as well as all of the handcrafted printing machinery created before the Age of Linotype.

......

Sentosa... A Malay word meaning ‘tranquil’. In the interview it is mentioned that the Sarkies brothers, who were Armenian, used the name Sentosa for their house on Bukit Timah Road. The Sarkies Brothers are most famous for having established Raffles Hotel.

.....

There’s some jazz on the hi-fi and everyone’s on the verandah. Helen’s beautiful in her strapless dress and her cheeks are glowing and this will be even better than drunken Bugis with its balconies full of bouncing transsexual breasts. This will be better than the blue movie at Maxine’s birthday party. “A pervert!" Helen says again. “Leather and shoes!”

....

We’d just arrived. It was very late, we were jetlagged and we didn’t have any Singapore money. We made rice with olive oil and furikake and drank a small bottle of 7-11 wine using a chipped coffee cup. Dessert was a mango, eaten by candlelight. I told her about the Tamil king who was given a magic mango, one that would make him immortal. He served it to his favorite poet.

....

Dr. Jack knew how to communicate with the future and he was obviously using a code. About two hundred years ago he sent a message on its way to me.

....

Plantin’s legendary studio was the Silicon Valley of 16th Europe, full of elegance and the world’s most sophisticated ink measuring and application technologies. Now, thankfully, it is a museum. We went. We held hands, her heart racing like mine. The drawings were there — Garamond’s original drawings**!The 380 drawings that Claude Garamond brought to life! The drawings are a monument, a landmark in the evolution of European printing and civilization! Garamond’s font of 1540, the masterpiece he created for King Francois!

...

We finally left the Sri Lankans and found a bus back to Boon Lay. We laughed upon seeing the Cambridge Industrial Park on Pioneer Road. On the train she told me about a new food she was creating. Two people will sit at a table with a very large glass tray between them. The tray will hold a liquid food and in the liquid will be floating white foods. Each person will use a dark sauce to write words on the white food. The staff will then turn on hidden fans to move the white foods, as if they are sailing, or floating like icebergs. 'Icewords' is what I am calling it.

....

We finally got home and went to sleep and now I’m waking up and she is not here. Forever.