Hunter is a person. But, he’s more than that. He’s an illustrator, a cartoonist, a visual performance artist, a life-lover, a prankster, and a friend of the U.S. postal service. For $25.00 a month, you can get a unique piece of his art shipped to your house. In January I received a rotating star-chart, which gives fictional constellations with etymological descriptions. In May I opened a box to find a scallop-shell which, when opened, contained a tiny flash drive with 30 live-recorded songs, all written and recorded in public spaces. Back in March I got a little book simply titled “Cherry.”
Cherry is a book full of important boating lore and instruction. It consists of advice, insight, and observations about certain water-borne phenomena. Seemingly conceived and written on the boat itself, amid a world of inspiration, Hunter has penned a charming, laugh-out-loud funny, and (at times) whimsically deep, probing manual for new boaters. Here are some specific points about the book:
1. It’s beautiful and easy to read. The soft matte cover is delicate and fun to touch. The image is of Hunter’s new dinghy, “Cherry,” which wraps around from the front, to the spine and back cover. The boat, and the water it rests on, look like tranquil places to be. the cover sets a comfortable mood for the reader, who may encounter the book with no idea what to expect beyond a good time. The title text is not a font, but scrawled by the author’s own hand and photocopied, so as to give the entire thing a very personal and off-the-cuff sensibility.
2. It’s funny, in a borderline-absurd way. For example, one chapter (each chapter is two facing pages) is called “Jetskiers: Parenting Gone Bad,” in which the author explains: “Jetskiers are born to parents who (and perhaps no fault to them) forgot to tell their kids about other life on the planet. They like it rough, fast, and in your face. Ages 16-45.” A few words later, the chapter ends with a grim, hilarious frankness, accompanied by a crude sketch of a gravestone, with the message: “Many Jetskiers die.”
3. It is charming and awkward. In a chapter called “Floating Sticks,” Hunter shares an illustration of a floating stick, a cross-section of a floating stick, and a Freudian, Icebergesque depiction of the “unseen stick” that lies below what you see on the surface. His jokes are often oblique, and sometimes take either a moment or two of figuring, or a simplification of the mind that makes you feel dumb in happy, innocent way.
4. It is deep and coyly wise. In a chapter simply titled “Where are the palm trees going?” Hunter explains that this particular tree simply “…intends to speak with the god-lady…slang for the night-sky.” As a reader, it is hard to feel like the words weren’t meant for you. It is hard to not feel like a tree growing towards something greater than trees. “Anyway, up they go,” he writes.
5. The illustrations are childlike, more-than-sketchy, and a perfect compliment to the scrawled smartness of Hunter’s concise words.
Hunter’s funny, charming art builds a childlike wonderment for the world and how it works. But, is it lit? You may just have to sign up for The Best Mail on Planet Earth and begin receiving his monthly gifts yourself. Let us know what you think!