The Book Marks was a Book Cover Design Contest where the best design—as decided by the internet—was permanently etched into a human body. We asked the public to reimagine the cover of Roberto Bolaño’s Antwerp and we inked that reimagining on our guy in charge, Luke Finsaas.


It was a meditation on how stories effect us—and how strange and beautiful (and dangerous) it is that they often come to us at random. When you’re young, you pick up a book in the library and read it. You turn on TV and there’s a show on. A friend is in a play so you go see it.

If stories shape the way we perceive the world, what does it mean that we run into them? What are the implications?


We did not answer the question. We attempted to create an experience that we hope will galvanize creative people to think deeply about their work, their influence, their position of power, etc. We attempted to create a frame around the question (while sharing a work that we love with you all).

During the actual ‘marking,’ Antwerp was read aloud in full, both to celebrate the work and to physicalize the meditation. Each word spoken aloud will be like a drop of fresh ink marking the editor’s arm.


Also, a very special thanks to the folks over at MPLS Tattoo, the premier female owned and operated tattoo parlor in the Twin Cities, for partnering with us on this wild project. Go get your naked skin covered in ink by these people. They take walk-ins.


More on Antwerp


“The only novel that doesn’t embarrass me is Antwerp.”

— Roberto Bolaño

Antwerp is a strange, short book. Nicole Krauss has a pretty decent review of the book at The Guardian, though it—in Luke’s estimation—focuses too much on the writerly part, not enough on the experience of reading the thing. The strange experience. Your second read through it gets clearer. The fifth time it’s harder. All in all, Luke estimates he’s read it nine times? Why? “Why would he read it nine times?” On the wall someone had written my one true love. “There was once a word” … (Coughs) … “A word for all this” … My darling, wherever you are: it’s too late, forget the gesture that never came. “Waiters walking along the beach” … “In short, he didn’t know. It just kept drawing him back.” Someone started to clap.

Here’s another way to put it: most books you love or you dislike. Your intestines know where to send the thing. Then there are books that rumble around and you don’t know why. They sound a tonal resonance in an interior chamber you didn’t realize you had. Antwerp is one of those books for Luke. Which is why he wants it on his body.
Buy a copy or read a pirate copy but really, buy a copy.