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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.]

Averill Found

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.

Boglione Foul Weather 1

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.

Chiykowski Postcards

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.

Dickinson Anatomic

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.

decarava sweet flypaper

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.

iduma pose

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.”

Jackson Riddance

Shelley Jackson. Riddance. n.p. Black Balloon, 2018. Jackson’s novel about a school for “Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children” contains many photographs.

bosun new juche

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.

kluge temple

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.

kopf brother

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.

Lerner Snows

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.

Lilley tilt

Kate Lilley. Tilt. Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2018. Poetry with three photographs and several other small images.

nguyen ghost of

Diana Khoi Nguyen. Ghost of. Oakland: Omnidawn, 2018. Poems with ten altered family photographs, several of which are used more than once.

Chronology Patterson

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.

Peace patient x

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.

Prynne oval

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.

Riggs Map

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.

robertson take

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.

tillman men

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.

Walsh Break

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.

Ybarra dinner

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.

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mario Aranda Marqués #

    I have meant to do this for a long while but I’m a procrastinator. Now, I’ve finally made up my mind about sending you the titles and authors of three photo-embedded books. Please excuse I don’t offer you the whole data of them for I have them at home and presently I’m just taking a time off from work. I don’t know if any of these books has been translated into English.

    The first one, Días extraños (Strange Days), by Ray Loriga, a Spanish writer, goes back to 1994. It’s a mixture of a supposedly cruel diary, aphorism-like thoughts, poems, and passages which may be fictional or not. It is intersped with some very beautiful artistic photographic, which I guess are the work of Alberto García Alix, a very talented and famous Spanish photographer. I would say here that this is one of my favourite books from all time.

    Tle second one, Clavícula (Clavicle), is by Marta Sanz, also an Spanish writer. This one is a novel about a woman who discovers she has some kind of worrying ailment. I leave it at that in order not to be a spoiler. In this, the handful of photos might very well be selfies but they somehow add up to the story anyway.

    Finally, Ordesa, by Manuel Vilas, a third Spanish author. This is a very recent book which is having a huge success. I believe it was published by the beginning of last year and it has had already more than eight reprints. I had only a quick glimpse at it because my wife just handed it to me but I did notice the embedded photos. Vilas is also a poet, something I could tell even from my quick look.

    I’m from Mexico and I have only included Spanish authors. It’s just a coincidence: they were the ones that came to my mind. I hope that next time I can offer some titles by Mexican authors.

    Thank you very much for keeping your website.

    January 15, 2019
    • Mario, Many thanks for your reply and suggestions! I know the work of Alberto García Alix. Many years ago I traveled all over Spain while curating an exhibition of Spanish photographers. He didn’t make the final cut, I’m sorry to say, but I saw a lot of his work then. I will look for these titles. Where do you live in Mexico?

      January 15, 2019
  2. Rupert #

    A Stranger’s Pose, Emmanuel Idama

    January 27, 2019
    • Thanks, Rupert. I just ordered this. Looks great.

      January 27, 2019
  3. Hope you enjoy it. I am halfway through. I bought it on the back of a review on another blog I read: [I’m not affiliated]. I’m sure there have been some poetry chapbooks through my hands that use images/photos too, but at the moment I can’t find them.

    January 31, 2019
  4. Rupert #

    And for the 2019 list, the final part of Agustín Fernández Mallo’s Nocilla trilogy, Nocilla Lab (Fitzcarraldo), has photos within the text.

    February 4, 2019
    • Rupert, Thanks again. I read Nocilla Dream and decided not to go further. Did you like Experience and Lab?

      February 4, 2019
      • Rupert #

        I love the trilogy, yes. One of my favourite recent reads. Lab is quite different, and kind of wraps things up too. How’s A Stranger’s Pose?

        February 8, 2019
  5. Rupert, I have not even opened A Stranger’s Pose yet. Will report back in time.

    February 9, 2019
  6. pellethepoet #

    Tilt by Kate Lilley. Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2018.

    3 photographs, and several other small images.

    Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (Poetry, 2019)

    March 10, 2019
  7. Thanks for the year’s lineup!

    Just came across a 2018 publication from Ugly Duckling Presse — ‘chronology’ by Zahra Patterson. It contains some loose-leaf photographs and ephemera tucked in between the pages, as well as some hand-drawn images. The author draws inspiration from Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée — although the roles of languages are reversed. While the French was the language of the colonizer, here the author is learning Sesotho (one of the tongues spoken in Lesotho). The book revolves in great part around an encounter with a South African writer/activist/teacher Liepollo Rantekoa who died in a car accident in Sept. 2012 at the age of 29. Her premature death is also what connects her to H.K.C. as kindred spirits. As is already clear, the book is a hybrid – part memoir, part email correspondence, part dictionary, part poem…

    That hybridity also applies to another book I don’t think I mentioned before: ‘Book of Mutter’ by Kate Zambrano, semiotext(e) 2017 (so old[er] news). The title is a bilingual pun and deals with the mother’s death. A meditation in fragments on photography, memory, and art.

    April 8, 2019
    • Thanks! Are there photographs in “Book of Mutter”?

      April 9, 2019
      • There are 3: one is a screenshot from Dreyer’s Jeanne d’Arc, one is from a stage production of Brecht, and the third is actually two photos, one of the author’s mother juxtaposed with a shot from the movie Wanda by Barbara Loden. The cover image is also important, from one of Louise Bourgeois’s Cells — LB is one of the artists Zambrano engages with in this book.

        April 9, 2019
  8. Thanks, as always. I’m more interested in “Chronology,” I think. And maybe Zambreno’s newer “Heroines.’

    April 9, 2019
  9. Hello Terry,

    I’m intrigued with your extensive bibliographies of embedded-illustration books. My wife and I have written a memoir in which the narrative is supported by a “chronology” of about 70 photos, many in color. We have been unable to find a publisher who believes the book can be profitable unless the photos are printed in groupings with extensive captions on each. We don’t feel that the story can be enjoyed, or even followed, with this layout.

    Our memoir is entitled: “Full Circle; A Hands-On Affair With The First Ferrari 250 GTO.” I was the owner/driver of this iconic race car in the 1960s. I kissed it goodbye in 1966 for $3600, but it came back into my life, in a way, in 2010. The car, now fully-restored and in a private collection, has become arguably the most valuable car in the world. It’s value approaches $100 million.

    I would appreciate any insight or reference you may share, re: publishers who have had good outcomes with books containing embedded images in both B&W and color.

    Thank you so much for your time, and for your fascinating website.
    Larry Perkins

    March 27, 2020
  10. Hey Larry, Thanks for the comment and the kind words. I can sympathize with your situation. But I’m not very familiar with the non-fiction side of the publishing world. I’ll bet that more than 90% of the books of fiction in my bibliography use b&w photographs, which helps keep the costs down. I am sure there are people who are much better suited to give you advice than me.

    March 27, 2020
  11. Books take so long to arrive where I am right now that I can’t remember how I learned about this one — and have a sneaking feeling it was on your website. So apologies if this is a boomerang recommendation, although I don’t see it in the 2018 list… *Adam Dickinson’s “Anatomic” from Coach House Books* is not only a beautiful production with B&W and color photos, from the first page it feels very topical to our viral present: “The keys touch me when I type. My breath smells because other creatures live out their ends in my mouth. Wearing a waterproof jacket perverts my immune response. My throat is sore because of a miniature life form that, when magnified, looks like a string of pearls.” In the color plate section (or is it a platelet section) at the end you get, among other things, petri dishes sprouting colonies of words. I can’t remember last time I saw scientific poetry. Lomonosov’s hexameter Epistle on the Usefulness of Glass, 1752?

    March 31, 2020
  12. Ela, you did not learn about this from me. Yes, it looks very relevant to our virus obsessed moment. Tell me, are the photos limited to a plate section or are some scattered through the book?

    March 31, 2020
  13. Excellent. Thank you.

    March 31, 2020

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