Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry – Leanne Shapton (2009)

Categorized as a graphic novel, this story follows the beginning and final dissolution of a serious relationship between two New Yorkers, Lenore and Harold. Sounds fairly straightforward, but instead of being told in a more typical format (using sequential art, for example), it is presented as a catalogue for an auction with photos of personal notes and belongings (along with a short sales description) that documents the relationship.

I wasn’t too sure how this would work when I first heard of the book, but when you sit down and sink your teeth into it, the story really pulls you in. Pictures of past event programs with notes scribbled on them, various books from each of their libraries with letters in them as bookmarks, clothing and their pocket contents, the “stolen restaurant salt and pepper shakers”, the detritus of a romantic relationship’s life span.

The author is the Art Director of the NYT Op-Ed page so the contents are bit hipster-doofus in places: lots of mid-century books and clothing and vintage collectable this and vintage collectable that. The two came across as insufferable snobs, so perhaps they were made for each other (except perhaps not as they broke up). The selection of personal things came across as “very look at me – look at how hip and ironic we are cos we live in NYC”…

Aside from that, this was an enjoyable short read, and quite fun as it was a different kind of format. (I don’t give much hope to the two people featured in the book: they rather deserve each other. Poseurs.)

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