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Robert Burns poem Tam O'ShanterI love both the work and story of the Edinburgh Mystery Sculptor, and I have posted twice about her on my Italian blog.

Twice in, say, three years – and that’s pretty much the extent of my knowledge about paper sculptures.

Well, it happened that, soon after my second EMS post, I was contacted by a small local book festival: would I like to go and talk about ebooks? And how about doing it with a gentleman who speaks about paper?

Well, why not, I said – and was told the gentleman would email me soon. And so he did, saying that he had read my blog, and liked very much the notion of the paper sculptures. So, his idea was for him to give a lecture on the historical use of paper, after which I could teach children to make paper sculptures…

A little taken aback, I answered that I knew next to nothing about paper sculptures, and certainly not how to make them – let alone teach anyone… Why couldn’t we – as the festival people had suggested – jointly talk about traditional and electronic books?

The gentleman proceeded to inform me that to talk about electronic books one needed some knowledge of the publishing business. He would have done it himself, if he were interested at all, but he wanted to keep the focus on paper, thank you very much – and my paper sculptures would make a nice complement. How about two classes, one for children, and one for adults?

I was too puzzled to be even miffed at the man’s condescension. Had he even read my emails? My blog he clearly hadn’t – or he might have noticed that the evolution of publishing was, back then, its primary focus – but the mails? after trying once more to convince him that there was no such thing as my paper sculptures, I appealed to the festival people, suggesting that, since they had proposed the collaboration, they might as well manage the communications. I have no idea how they dealt with the trouble, but I got one last, rather brusque email from the man, informing me that since I didn’t want to work with him, he wished me well with my projects.

In the end, the festival settled on two separate events, the Paper Man talked about paper (sans sculptures), and I about ebooks, and we all lived happily thereafter – but sometimes I still wonder: was he really this oblivious, or didn’t he want to share his event, and couldn’t bring himself to say so?

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