The Benjamenta College of Art
By Alan Reed
Edited by Monica Kidd
Designed by Emma Dawn Allain
Cover art by Benjamin Sack
Pedlar Press, 2020 (out of print)
read an excerpt
Nestled somewhere in the thick of a city, at the end of a long and winding lane, lies the venerable Benjamenta College of Art. And here is someone, a boy new to this city, making his way up the lane for the very first time. He has left his home to go away to school and he is both nervous and excited for whatever is in store for him.
It is a book about everything waiting for him there, in that odd and ever so slightly fantastic place, how it is all bafflingly strange at first and then slowly, gradually, how it all starts to become familiar. It is about how that growing sense of familiarity changes him, how the places we live shape the people we become.
“…and he says what he would like to do—his voice rises as he says it, to try to fill out the idea, to give it the substance it needs and he does not know if he does, if what he is saying makes any sense, and the old woman facing him listens as he says that he wants to draw the college, all of it, she sips at her tea and she nods when it is right to nod, and she listens, kindly, to what this boy has to say and when he has finished, when his half-formed idea hangs between them and they both have a sense of what it might be like to follow it, to see where it might go and what it might become, Luca sits with his eyes wide and uncertain, almost trembling, because he does not know if he has said enough, it is all that he has to say and what if it is not enough, he sits and he hopes and he waits for the professor to say something. It is a moment where anything might happen and the old woman sips at her tea and, in her quiet voice, she says, yes.”