Things do indeed come apart. You may have witnessed this as your cell phone crashed to the ground and exploded on impact, or earlier on in your life when you pulled your toys or the remote control apart. These days everything looks so smooth and effortless in its construction that we, well me, forget just how much thought and engineering go into even the smallest of gizmos and gadgets.
This is where I introduce you to my friend, Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Living by Todd McLellan. My friend was kind enough to pass it along, and I have not been able to put it down since. The geek in me is obsessed with the components, and sheer number of parts that go into event the simplest of gadgets, like the mechanical pencil for example.
The history and philosophy lover in me can't get enough of the wise words thoughtfully collected into lovely essays on teardowns, tinkering and repairing the old, yet still very useful.
While the art historian in me stared (and is still staring) blankly, mouth agape, at the beautifully choreographed layouts of the these disassembled objects. Author Todd McLellan describes the process of tearing down an object as taking as long as 1-2 days, and arranging the parts as taking just as long. It's a process, and a beautiful one at that. I have studied a lot of art, and over the years developed a certain affection for artists like McLellan, although I'm pretty sure he would prefer the title of Tinkerer.
We spend so much time learning how to put things together, math equations, essays, sports plays, dance moves, life. What does it mean to sit down and take it all apart? To evaluate each component of an object and make the connection to the whole? Something tells me, it means a great deal.
The best part, kids are pretty much experts at this to begin with, its only as we grow older that the process of tearing down becomes difficult. Just ask Grever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School, kids are professional tinkerers. Which makes this fun chunk of paper and binding one of those magic books that parents will love just as much as the kids.
In all I obviously give this book very high marks. Really, I think the only thing I might add would be descriptions of what the parts, when all laid out, actually do. Aside from that, this book is wonderfully distracting, thoughtfully put together, and just plain beautiful to look at.
* Last time in Books and Stories: Autumn Reading List