Ways of Reading: On the Road with Tim Youd's 100 Novels Project

Ways of Reading: On the Road with Tim Youd's 100 Novels Project

August 8, 2022

by Tulsa Kinney/Artillery Magazine 

When I first encountered Tim Youd, he was sitting at a metal table outside an art gallery in Chinatown, tap-tap-tapping away on a portable typewriter, just minding his own business. Most of the crowd didn’t pay him much mind either.

Earlier that summer, Youd found himself on the flatbed of a pickup truck parked in front of LA’s Terminal Annex Post Office retyping Charles Bukowski’s Post Office on an Underwood typewriter. That was in July of 2013 and proved to be a precursor to the LA performance artist’s ongoing “100 Novels Project” series, in which Youd visits the settings of one hundred novels and retypes them in their entirety on the same model typewriter that was used for the original composition. The Bukowski performance would become number 7, marking the beginning of these literary pilgrimages that would take Youd all over the world.

Now, almost a decade later, I’m in Red Cloud, Nebraska, to watch Youd (pronounced you’d) perform a retyping of Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark. Speaking of larks: Could Youd have ever imagined his project taking him this far, literarily and geographically?