Photography-embedded Literature – The 1990s
Here is my bibliography of works of fiction and poetry published in the years 1990-1999 containing embedded photographs. You can see individual bibliographies for other years underneath the pull-down menu “Photo-Embedded Literature” at the top of Vertigo. I continue to update these lists as I learn of new books. If you know of a book not included on my list, please let me know in a comment. [Last updated November 10, 2022.]
Walter Abish. 99: The New Meaning. Providence: Burning Deck, 1990. Five unconventional stories by Abish with five photographs by his wife, the artist Cecile Abish.
Pierre Alferi. Kub Or. Paris: P.O.L., 1994. Alferi’s poems each contain seven lines of seven syllables. In the middle of the book is a sequence of seven small b&w photographs by Suzanne Doppelt. Translated into English in 2004 by Cole Swensen and published in the US by Burning Deck.
Nick Bantock. The Forgetting Room. NY: HarperCollins, 1997. Many types of illustrations throughout.
Nick Bantock. Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence. SF: Chronicle Books, 1991. Many types of illustrations throughout.
Nick Bantock. The Museum at Purgatory. NY: HarperCollins, 1999. Many types of illustrations throughout.
Konrad Bayer. The Head of Vitus Bering. London: Atlas press, 1994. Contains a single b&w photograph on the first page of the text. A “revised” version of the 1979 English translation by Walter Billeter from the 1965 German original Der Kopf des Vitus Bering: Ein Portrait in Prosa. In a New Yorker interview with Joseph Cuomo in 2001, W.G. Sebald revealed that the second section of his book of poems Nach der Nature (After Nature), which deals with Georg Wilhelm Steller, owes its existence to Sebald’s chance reading of Bayer’s book, which delves into the mind of the 18th century explorer who dies in the sea now named after him. “He’d only written a number of very slender little things, among them was a book called The Head of Vitus Bering, and that had in it a footnote referring to an eighteenth century German botanist and zoologist called Georg Wilhelm Steller, who happens to have the same initials I have, and who happened to have been born in a place that my mother visited when she was pregnant…”
Brooke Bergan. Storyville: A Hidden Mirror. Wakefield, RI: Asphodel Press, 1994. Poems relating to Storyville, the famous New Orleans red light district, with four b&w photographs by E.J. Bellocq.
William Boyd. Nat Tate: American Artist, 1928-1960. Cambridge: 21 Publishing, 1998. Spoof biography of a fictional artist, containing a number of photographs and other reproductions. For my brief comments on this book, click here.
Rudy Burckhard & Vincent Katz. Boulevard Transportation. NY: Tibor de Nagy Editions, 1997. This is more a collaboration between poet and photographer than an example of photographs being embedded in a text, but it is a great example of a writer focused closely on the images that inspire his poems. The poet Vincent Katz seems to have written many of the poems in this volume with specific Burckhardt photographs in mind, giving great vigor to the interaction between text and image. Burckhardt’s photographs span the years 1939-1995.
Jack Finney. From Time to Time. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1995. A photographically-illustrated novel and a sequel to his 1970 Time and Again.
Nikky Finney. Rice. Toronto: Sister Vision, 1995. Poems about the American south, with ten uncredited historic b&w portrait photographs of African Americans.
Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch. Vertigo/DC Comics, 1995. A graphic novel that updates the traditional Punch & Judy story, with occasional photographs used in place of drawings.
William H. Gass. “Emma Enters a Sentence of Elizabeth Bishop’s”. Conjunctions 30, 1998. pp. 198-241. A novella with eight photographs by Michael Eastman. This is one of the finer examples of the careful placement and sizing of embedded photographs in a work of fiction. But when this piece later appeared in Cartesian Sonatas and other Novellas in 1998, the photographs were eliminated because Gass thought they would not reproduce well on the paper stock being used for that publication For my review of this story, click here.
Juan Goytisolo. Saga de los Marx. Barcelona: Mondadori, 1993. Translated into English in 1996.
Juan Goytisolo. The Marx Family Saga. London: Faber and Faber, 1996. An English translation from the 1993 Spanish original Saga de los Marx. Contains a single photograph – a portrait of the Marx family’s servant Helen Demuthone. For my review of this book, click here.
Marion Halligan. Out of the Picture. Canberra: National Library of Australia, 1996. Eight stories (‘Stories Invented’) and six essays (‘Stories Found’) inspired by photographs from the National Library of Australia’s Pictorial Collection.
Jana Harris. Oh How Can I Keep on Singing? Voices of Pioneer Women. NY: Ontario Review Press, 1993. Poems with twenty-one b&w historic photographs of the old west credited to a variety of sources.
Barbara Hodgson. The Sensualist. Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 1998. Many types of illustrations throughout.
Barbara Hodgson. The Tattooed Map. Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 1995. Many types of illustrations throughout.
Susan Howe. Frame Structures: Early Poems 1974-1979. NY: New Directions, 1976. Contains several images. Two of the longer poems, “Hinge Picture” and “Chanting at the Crystal Sea,” each contain a photograph.
Susan Howe. Pierce-Arrow. NY: New Directions, 1999. Contains a number of images, including one photograph in the poem “Arisbe.”
Katz, Vincent and Rudy Burckhardt. New York Hello! Chicago: Ommation Press, 1990. Poems by Katz and New York City street photographs in b&w by Burckhardt.
Susan Mabel Maney. The Amnesia Victim. Rochester: Visual Studies Workshop, 1990. Short prose works illustrated with b&w photographs and images.
Javier Marias. All Souls. London: Harvill, 1992. Marias’ wonderful novel of a Spanish scholar (and book collector) teaching at Oxford contains two photographs – a portrait of the British writer John Gawsworth (1912-1970) and a photograph of Gawsworth’s death mask. Translated from the Spanish original Todas las almas (1989). For my review of this book, click here.
Javier Marías. Negra Espalda del Tiempo. Barcelona: Ediciones Alfaguara, 1998. Includes reproductions of unattributed photographs, newspaper clippings and other visual elements in his novel. Translated into English as Dark Back of Time in 2001.
Carole Maso. The Art Lover. SF: North Point Press, 1990. In Maso’s novel about New York City and the AIDS crisis, the narrator’s father has just died and her best friend is dying of AIDS. The book contains many photographs and other illustrations (all credited to various sources). For my review of this book, click here.
Ronit Matalon. Ze im hapanim eleinu. Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1995. Translated into English in 1998 as The One Facing Us.
Ronit Matalon. The One Facing Us. NY: Henry Holt, 1998. Translation from the Hebrew original Ze im hapanim eleinu (1995). An Israeli teenager is sent to Africa to live with her uncle. Family photographs end up serving as her de facto family history. Contains numerous family photographs. For more on this book, click here.
Thomas McGonigle. Going to Patchogue. Elmwood Park, IL: Dalkey Archive, 1992. Contains five uncredited photographs (probably by the author) of the city of Patchogue, on Long Island.
Dave McKean. Cages. Kitchen Sink Press, 1998. A 500-page graphic novel about a painter, a novelist, and a musician, that is often about the subject of creativity itself. McKean occasionally used manipulated photographs in addition to his drawings.
John Muckle. Cyclomotors. Essex: Festival Books, 1997. Muckle’s portrait of a dysfunctional family in 1950s working class England contains a number of photographs of cyclomotors (motorized bicycles). For my review of this book, click here.
Timothy O’Grady. I Could Read the Sky. London: Harvill Press, 1997. A coming-of-age novel set in Ireland and England, with photographs by Steve Pyke.
Bernard Plossu. Poèmes du Jardin de Poussière. Fontaine-les-Dijon: Editions Gramma, 1995. A bilingual edition of poems in French and English accompanied by photographs by Plossu, a well-known French photographer.
Jan E. Ramjerdi. RE.LA.VIR. FC@, 1999. According to the publisher’s website, “RE.LA.VIR renders rape through the narrative filter of an online hypertext program. Juxtaposing savvy technical language and graphic scenes of sexual violence, the novel creates an alternative techno fictive space for representing lived experience.” The seventeen b&w photographs are, according to James Elkins, “almost all nude studies, in the manner of early 20th century classicizing photography from Stieglitz to Weston. . . .mostly set in a garden.”
Christoph Ransmayr. The Terrors of Ice and Darkness. NY: Grove, 1991. An English translation of the German original Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis (1984). For my review of this book, click here.
William Rawle. Diary of an Amateur Photographer. NY: Penguin, 1998. A novel in the form of a scrapbook, containing numerous photographs.
Julián Ríos. Larva: Midsummer Night’s Babel. Elmwood Park, IL: Dalkey Archive, 1990. Contains a section at the end of the novel called “Babelle’s Photo Album,” with 50 black-and-white snapshots of London street scenes. The images are uncredited, but seem to be by the author. Translated from the Spanish original Larva: Babel de una noche de San Juan (1983).
Julián Ríos. Poundemonium. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1997. Rios’ “homage to Ezra Pound” serves as the second novel in the series begun with Larva (1990). The book contains an appendix called “Babelle’s Photo Album” with 63 b&w photographs that are described as “Snapshots in alphabetical order of some of the London sites mentioned in this novel.” This is the first English translation of the 1986 Spanish original Poundemónium: Homenaje a Ezra Pound.
Georges Rodenbach. Bruges-la-Morte. London: Atlas Press, 1993. Originally published in French in 1892, Bruges-la-Morte is probably the first work of fiction published in which the author included photographs that were intended to complement the text. This edition is a translation by Thomas Duncan (first published in 1903), revised by Terry Hale, and includes some, but not all of the original photographs. For my writings on Rodenbach’s novel, click here.
Jacques Roubaud. The Great Fire of London. Elmwood Park, IL: Dalkey Archive, 1991. Written after the death of his wife, the photographer Alix Roubaud, this novel contains two enigmatic photograph by Alix. Roubaud is a member of Oulipo. Translated from the French original Grand Incendie de Londres (1989). For my review of this book, click here.
Cynthia Rylant. Something Permanent. NY: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1994. Poems by Rylant, accompanied by FSA photographs by Walker Evans, selected by the poet.
Leslie Scalapino. Crowd and not evening or light: a poem. Oakland: O Books/Sun and Moon Press, 1992. Book-length poem with seventy-six b&w snapshots, apparently by the poet. For my review of this book, click here.
Leslie Scalapino. Green and Black: Selected Writings. Jersey City: Talisman House, 1996. Contains variant excerpts from her book-length poem Crowd and not evening or light: a poem (1992), including six photographs.
Gregory Scofield. I Knew Two Métis Women. Polestar Press, 1999. Poems about his mother and aunts, with several photographs that are probably from his family album.
W.G. Sebald. Die Ausgewanderten. Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn Verlag, 1992. Contains numerous photographs. Translated in English in 1996 as The Emigrants.
W.G. Sebald. The Emigrants. London: Harvill Press, 1996. The first English translation of the 1992 German original Die Ausgewanderten.
W.G. Sebald. Die Ringe des Saturn: Eine Englische Wallfahrt. Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn Verlag, 1995. Contains numerous photographs. Translated in English in 1998 as The Rings of Saturn.
W.G. Sebald. The Rings of Saturn. London: Harvill Press, 1998.
W.G. Sebald. Schwindel. Gefühle. Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn Verlag, 1990. Contains many photographs. Translated into English in 1999 as Vertigo.
W.G. Sebald. Vertigo. London: Harvill Press, 1999. The English translation of the 1990 German original Schwindel. Gefühle, with many photographs.
Ronan Sheehan. Foley’s Asia. Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1999. Sheehan’s novel of atrocities wrought in Asia and elsewhere in the nineteenth century by the British Empire is told partly through the stories behind the sculptures that John Henry Foley (1818-1874) created of the “illustrious” men that England and Ireland celebrated as heroes. Some of Foley’s works are shown in photographs throughout the book, along with several other images.
Carol Shields. The Stone Diaries. Toronto: Random House, 1993. A fictional autobiography in which a woman sees the entirety of her life, including her own birth and death. With a number of photographs purporting to be of her family.
Josef Škvorecký. Scherzo Capriccioso: vesely sen o Dvorakovi. Prague: Odeon Praha, 1991. The Czech edition of Škvorecký’s novel Dvorak in Love contains a number of photographs. There is an earlier 1983 Canadian edition (also in Czech) from Sixty-Eight Publishers in Toronto, which I have not seen, which may or may not contain photographs.
Jo Soares. O homem que matou Getulio Vargas: Biografia de um anarquista. Sao Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1998. Translated into English in 2001 as Twelve Fingers: Biography of an Anarchist. Contains many illustrations, most of which are photographs. Note the six-fingered hand emerging from the shadows on the cover image.
Anne Tardos. Cat Licked the Garlic. Vancouver: Tsunami Editions, 1992. Plurilingual (English, French, Hungarian & German) poems with numerous photographic images created from modified video frames shot by the author.
Anne Tardos. Uxudo. Berkeley: Tuumba Press & Oakland: O Books, 1999. Plurilingual (English, French, Hungarian & German) poems with numerous photographic images created from modified video frames shot by the author.
Dubravka Ugrešiƈ. The Museum of Unconditional Surrender. NY: New Directions, 1999. A novel about memory and photography, with a single photograph facing the title page (and repeated on the front cover).
Keith Waldrop. Light While There Is Light: An American History. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1993. Waldrop’s poetic novel about a search for the right religious sect contains several photographs.
Curtis White. Anarcho-Hindu: The Damned, Weird Book of Fate. Normal, IL: Fiction Collective 2, 1995. With six photographs by Donald Stuefloten. An experimental novel in which the narrator encounters Siva, a woman who seems to have multiple identities, some of which are in the past. The photographs depict a woman posing as the Hindu goddess Siva (or Shiva) in several forms.
Fascinating collection. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for listing GOING TO PATCHOGUE… it seemed only natural to include the photographs though “the truth” contained in the photographs was something never discussed yet a few wondered about the cover photograph and its relationship to the text… but as I remember that was an allusion to Lord Patchogue a creation of Jacques Rigaut… who was one of the earliest to include non-text items in his own writings…
I recall Roberto Bolaño (in Between Parentheses) mentioning in his review of The Cubs by Mario Vargas Llosa (in Spanish) that there’s a Spanish edition of the book which contains photographs. I can’t recall what edition but he mentioned the name of the photographer in the same review.
Thanks! I’ll try to figure this out.
War Primer by Bertolt Brecht. London : Libris, 1998. First English edition.
First published in Germany in 1955, under the title Kriegsfibel.
Assembled during WWII from photographs clipped from newspapers and magazines, each image is accompanied by a short verse. Brecht calls them photo-epigrams.
I was surprised I had never heard of this (maybe you have).
It has just been re-issued in paperback by Verso, May 2017.
Thanks as always for this tip. I’ve never heard of it either, but I just ordered it.
Found this on my shelves, which I’d neglected to pass on earlier:
Out of the Picture by Marion Halligan. Canberra : National Library of Australia, 1996.
Eight stories (‘Stories Invented’) and six essays (‘Stories Found’) inspired by photographs from the National Library of Australia’s Pictorial Collection.
Nice to see my book GOING TO PATCHOGUE in your bibliography… there were very good reviews of the book in the NYTIMES also a news article NEWSDAY also a news article and reviews in the CHICAGO TRIBUNE and LATIMES..there were a number discussions of the book in a variety of books of literary criticism…I was one of the very first to review Sebald’s THE EMIGRANTS and a quote from that review in the Chicago Tribune used to be used on the ND paperback…
Thomas, You were a visionary to recognize the rare qualities of The Emigrants so early. My copy has your quote on it, I’m pleased to see.
I’ve added this to my bibliography. Thanks!