Photography-Embedded Fiction & Poetry 2018
Here is my bibliography of works of fiction and poetry published in 2018 containing embedded photographs. If you know of a book that I have not mentioned, please let me know in a comment. My thanks to the many Vertigo readers who have already pointed out books that I had not known about. [Added to March 6, 11, April 24, June 5, November 12, December 3, 18, 2019, January 21, March 31, April 8, 22, July 27, August 6, 2020, January 5, 2021.]
Thomas Fox Averill. Found Documents from the Life of Nell Johnson Doerr. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2018. An entirely fictional biography told through journals, letters, photographs, drawings, notes, and clippings supposedly left behind by Nell Doerr, who lived in Lawrence, Kansas, between 1854 and 1889.
Stephanie Bishop. Man Out of Time. Sydney: Hachette Australia, 2018. A non-linear study of a father’s mental illness, from the perspective of his daughter. With black-and-white photographs.
Riccardo Boglione. It Is Foul Weather In Us All. Hastings, England: Ma Bibliothèque, 2018. Following a tradition that started with Marcel Duchamp with “Readymade Malheureux,” Boglione asked twelve artists to leave copies of Shakespeare’s The Tempest out in the rain. He then photographed pages from each of the examples and recreated the play in this volume.
Peter Chiykowski. Postcards from Impossible Worlds: The Collected Shortest Story. Peterborough, Canada: ChiZine Publications, 2018. Hyper short stories, often in the form of jokes or a brief sentence or two, typeset on postcard-shaped photographs.
Adam Dickinson. Anatomic. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2018. “The poems of Anatomic have emerged from biomonitoring and microbiome testing on the author’s body to examine the way the outside writes the inside, whether we like it or not. Adam Dickinson drew blood, collected urine, swabbed bacteria, and tested his feces to measure the precise chemical and microbial diversity of his body. To his horror, he discovered that our “petroculture” has infiltrated our very bodies with pesticides, flame retardants, and other substances. He discovered shifting communities of microbes that reflect his dependence on the sugar, salt, and fat of the Western diet, and he discovered how we rely on nonhuman organisms to make us human, to regulate our moods and personalities. Structured like the hormones some of these synthetic chemicals mimic in our bodies, this sequence of poems links the author’s biographical details (diet, lifestyle, geography) with historical details (spills, poisonings, military applications) to show how permeable our bodies are to the environment.” (From the publisher’s website.) With b&w and color photographs scattered throughout the book, plus a separate plate section.
Forrest Gander. Be With. NY: New Directions, 2018. Contains a poem sequence called “Littoral Zone,” which consists of six photographs by Michael Flomen, each facing a section of the poem that, at least in part, includes verbal equivalents and/or references to the image. See my review of this book here.
Langston Hughes and Roy DeCarava. The Sweet Flypaper of Life. NY: First Print Press, 2018. First published in 1955, this classic collaboration about life in Harlem began when Langston Hughes saw Roy DeCarava’s photographs and decided to base a new story around them. A beautifully-produced new edition that pays special attention to the printing of stunning DeCarava’s photographs. With a new Afterword by the photographer’s widow Sherry Turner DeCarava.
Emmanuel Iduma. A Stranger’s Pose. Abuja, Nigeria: Cassava Republic Press, 2018. From the publisher that launched Teju Cole back in 2007, comes this book of travel writing and b&w photography across parts of Africa. Iduma acknowledges that the book is an “imaginative gesture” and in his Foreword Cole calls the book “a ballad in which there is no need to separate dreams from the things which one experiences in a waking state.”
Shelley Jackson. Riddance. n.p. Black Balloon, 2018. Jackson’s novel about a school for “Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children” contains many photographs.
New Juche [pseudonym]. Bosun. Paris: Kiddiepunk, 2018. A book that reads at times like a 21st century version of Jean Genet, with photographs by the author of the aging, deteriorating architecture in Rangoon.
Alexander Kluge. Temple of the Scapegoat: Opera Stories. NY: New Directions, 2018. Contains more than a dozen uncredited photographs (many of which are film stills) and reproductions of several old prints – all opera themed.
Alicia Kopf. Brother in Ice. Sheffield: And Other Stories, 2018. English translation from the Catalan original Germà de gel of 2015 by Mara Feye Lethem. A hybrid novel blending research into polar explorations with a coming-of-age story of becoming an artist and having an autistic brother. Contains drawings and uncredited photographs.
Ben Lerner & Alexander Kluge. The Snows of Venice: The Lerner-Kluge Container. Leipzig: Spector Books, 2018. Poems, stories and conversations by Lerner and Kluge, along with a series of 21 photographs that Gerhard Richter took in Venice in the 1970s, as well as images by Rebecca H. Quaytman and Thomas Demand.
Kate Lilley. Tilt. Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2018. Poetry with three photographs and several other small images.
Diana Khoi Nguyen. Ghost of. Oakland: Omnidawn, 2018. Poems with ten altered family photographs, several of which are used more than once.
Zahra Patterson. Chronology. Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018. The publisher calls this a work of “nonfiction/essay,” but Patterson’s book converses so directly with Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s 1982 book Dictee that I felt it has to be included in this collection. Chronology is about Patterson’s failed attempt to translate a Sesotho short story into English, which, among many other topics, leads Patterson to reflect on the relationship between language and colonialism. The book combines emails, bits o memoir, handwritten notes, press releases, other texts, lists of words in Sesotho and English that verge on poetry, and loose reproductions of photographs that are inserted between specific pages of the book as illustrations.
David Peace. Patient X: The Case-Book of Ryûnosuke Akutagawa. NY: Knopf, 2018. Stories based on the stories and life of the Japanese writer Akutagawa. Each one is preceded by an illustration, some of which are historic photographs that relate to the story.
J.H. Prynne. The Oval Window. Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2018. This “new annotated edition” of Prynne’s 1983 poem is now combined with photographs he made at the time and place of the poem’s composition.
Ransom Riggs. A Map of Days. NY: Dutton, 2018. The fourth in the series of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children’s books, in which Riggs uses his collection of vernacular photographs to support the storyline.
Robin Robertson. The Long Take. London: Picador, 2018. A book-length “noir narrative” poem that takes place in the US between 1946 and 1953, focusing on a D-Day veteran with PTSD. With nine historic photographs.
Lynne Tillman. Men and Apparitions. NY: Soft Skull, 2018. Tillman’s narrator is an ethnographer of family photographs who embarks on a study of the “new man,” born under the sign of feminism. With numerous family snapshots reproduced.
Joanna Walsh. Break. up. South Pasadena: Semiotext(e), 2018. Walsh’s narrator pursues an affair mostly online through texts, emails and DMs as she travels across Europe. Scattered throughout are snapshots that suggest travel without explicitly depicting places.
Gabriela Ybarra. The Dinner Guest. London: Harvill Secker, 2018. First English translation. A novel about the 1977 kidnapping and murder of Ybarra’s grandfather. With two photographs of the author’s father, the famous photograph of the Swiss writer Robert Walser lying dead in the snow, and a grouping of twenty-eight tiny photographs taken off a computer of the author’s mother and some gravestones. A translation by Natasha Wimmer from the 2015 Spanish original El Comensal.