I have old and new books that have so much more interesting material than I could include; images that similarly were interesting, but just didn’t make it in; images that just helped me imagine streetscapes and places I couldn’t travel to during the COVID pandemic; histories and facts that couldn’t fit in the book (no matter how hard I tried); and stories of people bearing traditions today.
Enter the beauty of the internet. I’ve been keeping the Open Stacks blog on my website since 2014 as a place to share material culture from private collections I find interesting, stories that I didn’t have the energy to pitch a publication, and just cool stuff. In the last few years, my posting pace slowed as I worked on Flowers in the Gutter and published articles. But, now that Well of Souls is close to publication, I wanted to use this space for a series of extras and as a companion to the book.
Banya Obbligato will be a series of weekly blog posts leading up to and following the publication of Well of Souls (some of them have to wait for a few of the reveals in the book and the title of this series will be clearer when you read the book). The posts will include book recommendations, interviews, compilations of images, (even) deep(er) dives into characters that I mention in the book, history outside the time period of the book, and even totally tangential stories I just think are cool.
These posts will all be tagged with Banya Obbligato and be here on the blog, for free. I’ll also be sending a monthly newsletter with the posts from that month, and maybe other articles related to the book. You can sign up for the newsletter here. I decided to use my own website for these posts and the newsletter (even though there are things like Patreon and Substack) because I wanted it to be completely free and in my control. While integrally related to Well of Souls, it is editorially and financially separate from the book. So, if you want to financially support the blog, newsletter, or my writing, you can do so here.
This is part of Banya Obbligato, a series of blog posts relating to my book Well of Souls: Uncovering the Banjo’s Hidden History. While integrally related to Well of Souls, these posts are editorially and financially separate from the book (i.e., I’m researching, writing, and editing them myself and no one is paying me for it). So, if you want to financially support the blog or my writing and research you can do so here.
Come in, the stacks are open.
Away from prying eyes, damaging light, and pilfering hands, the most special collections are kept in closed stacks. You need an appointment to view the objects, letters, and books that open a door to the past.