Book Review Friday

SOUsually I use the book title as the post title for my Friday book thoughts, but it seemed a tad long in this case. Here goes:

Important Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton

One word review of this book: Innovative. That’s review-speak for “this book isn’t for everybody.” The book is an auction catalog that tells the story of the roughly 4-year relationship between Doolan and Morris. Mind you, it is all fiction, completely made up, a weird type of graphic novel using photographs and short, descriptive text. I loved it.

I consider this book to be a full novelization of the significant object (SO) phenomenon. Several years ago I became completely hooked on something called the SO Project. Basically worthless items/trinkets were sent to professional writers who made up stories about the objects. The objects were then auctioned off on eBay (with their stories) with the proceeds given to charity (specifically 826 National). The guys who dreamed this up were just curious if something would be worth more if it had significance, even if the significance was made up. The project was so well received that they conducted several rounds of it, benefiting other writing and literacy charities.

Yes, I bid on several items, but this is the only object I won:toaster

Yes, I still have the story, too. And despite several clean-outs of the closet where this toy toaster resides, I am not ready to part with it.

I’m always on the lookout for examples of the SO phenomenon. I’ve heard of SO stories as writing prompt for students, and I heard mention of Shapton’s book when someone was talking about their own SO project, where they wrote stories about “worthless” items and put them all up for bid in a silent auction at a party…in order to cover the costs of the party.

Not surprising, Shapton is known more for being an illustrator and visual artist. This book is truly a brilliant, unique, and innovative way to tell a story.

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