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NPR Review: THE PHAROS GATE by Nick Bantock

Do you remember the Griffin and Sabine series? Those beautiful books from the early 90s that were full of envelopes, remarkable artwork, and a whimsical correspondence between two artists who’d never met?

Nick Bantock’s put out a new volume, The Pharos Gate: Griffin & Sabine’s Lost Correspondence, and I had the pleasure of reviewing it for NPR Books.


Here’s a bit of the review:

I came of letter-writing age with the internet. In 1996, the magical and miraculous was, to me, the possibility of finding other people who loved the things I loved no matter how far away: I’d perform the correct strokes, dial up a screeching djinn, and a glowing portal would open between me and the vastness of the world. It was a quiet place where sharing real names was a mark of deepest trust, where it was possible to pour one’s rawest, most vulnerable thoughts into an aether where probably no one was listening — but if someone was, they might draw closer and be your  friend.

This was perhaps less a review of the book than a review of my own experience of correspondence over the last 15 years — but I think the book, and the project of these books, benefit from that.

I was stunned to discover that there’d been an attempt at Kickstarting a game based on the books, but that it had failed to reach its goal. There seems to be an odd gulf between the people who loved this series years ago and the knowledge that stuff is happening with the material now, so I hope The Pharos Gate finds its audience — just as I hope every letter I trust to the postal system finds its way into the hands I intend.