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

This book deserves to win prizes for its concept which is totally unlike anything I’ve ever seen (or read) before.  It’s the story of a relationship from start to finish, but presented in the form of an auction catalogue of the couple’s ‘stuff’ – so original, so clever, but does it work?

Lenore is a food writer for a New York newspaper, Harold is a photographer. They meet at a Halloween party, fall in and ultimately, out of love.  They’re the sort of couple who are always taking photos of themselves, individually or setting the timer and posing.  They write notes too – from post-it reminders on the fridge, to endearments tucked into things, to letters expressing love, frustration, anger …

Their life together is represented by 325 lots, comprising many of their photos, notes, and other ephemera (I love that word!), as well as books, knick-knacks and household items. Most are illustrated; the accompanying text gives the physical details of the lots including condition reports plus an estimate – just like in a real auction catalogue, there is no further elaboration.

It was fascinating to see what was going to come up next, but I found this book so frustrating. I mean, who (except the owner’s mother), would ever consider bidding for a lot of three oven gloves, two of which were well worn, estimate $20-$45, unless they were from the top celebrity chef du jour?  This couple may have been well-known within their professional circles, but outside that, who would go to an auction of their cast-offs?  It was this juxtaposition of fantasy versus reality that partially put me off.  It also smacks of doing one’s dirty washing in public – we can celebrate the couple’s initial euphoria of being in love with them without being too voyeuristic, but by the time their relationship started to fade, my interest did rather too as I didn’t want to intrude.

I may have been underwhelmed by this unusual romance, but that’s just me.  Simon at Savidge Reads loved it and you may do too… Has anyone else ‘read’ it? I bought this book (6/10).

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