You can now have my Style Notes column delivered direct to your inbox every Saturday morning, by subscribing to my new blog Maggie Alderson Style Notes.

Click on the rather faint grey link above.

Follow me on marvellous Twitter @MaggieA

Thursday, September 23, 2010


To give the full title:

Oh. My. God. This is so wonderful I can hardly find words, so I’ll start with context. My niece Katy told me about it, after she saw it on India Knight’s blog (see list of blogs I follow, although I clearly wasn’t that day).

So what’s so amazing? Everything, not least that it is a totally new idea. It’s the entire story of a four-year relationship between two New York creative media coolsters (a food writer on the New York Times and a freelance travel photographer), told through an illustrated auction catalogue. The glossy kind that Sotheby’s and Christies do, with lots of photographs of objects and concise captions in a very flat and restrained formal style.

It starts with the invitation to the Halloween party where they met and continues on through print outs of emails, snapshots, clothes, postcards and other personal artifacts, which tell you with great subtlety absolutely everything about them and their relationship.

I love the idea of it, I love how brilliantly she’s done it – and I love the style of their romance, which is so redolent of my first marriage, it was really quite spooky.

The last book I blogged about made me uncomfortable it was so close to home at times; this one got much closer, but made me smile about it.

The Joni Mitchell lyrics, the Smythson diaries, the Pera Palas Hotel in Istanbul, the beach house at Orient Point, Long Island – there are so many chimes of my own life in this book, it was insane and delicious. I had read just about every book featured in it.

I felt like it had been written just for me and I think anyone from the world’s collective creative milieu would feel the same.

It speaks to the global tribe which shops in flea markets and Prada with equal glee, considers certain books to be close personal friends, collects images and quirky objects like precious gems, travels rather than holidays, and actively prefers used things for their soul.

But while it is a beautiful object in its own right, made with exquisite taste, it’s not just an exercise in style. Towards the end, there’s a letter from the heroine’s sister which contains great wisdom about relationships:

‘I used to talk about how I pitied the boring couples who never experienced any of our highs and lows, but I decided it’s hard to get things done with the highs and lows. You spend a lot of time avoiding life…. It has nothing to do with happy.’

Amen to that.

Reading satisfaction: 9
Un-put-downable-ness: 8.5
Recommend to best girlfriend: 10
Recommend to mother: 3
Recommend to niece: 10 (one of them recommended it to me…)
Recommend to gay best friend: 9
Recommend to man pal: 9
Recommend to Helen Razer: 9
Read on public transport: 0 (too big)
Unpleasantness: 0

No comments:

Post a Comment