Photography-Embedded Fiction & Poetry 2019
Here is my bibliography of works of fiction and poetry published in 2019 containing embedded photographs. You can see bibliographies for other years underneath the pull-down menu “Photo-Embedded Literature” at the top of Vertigo. 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 on January 21, February 4, 5, 11, 2020.]
Julian Barnes. The Man in the Red Coat. London: Jonathan Cape, 2019. Barne’s novel contains a number of reproductions of well-known 19th century paintings and cartes-de-visites of Parisian personalities.
Youmna Chlala. Paper Camera. n.p.: Litmus Press, 2019. This Beirut-born, trilingual (Arabic, English, French) author combines poetry about life between languages, air strikes, real-life and possibly fictional bits of narrative… with a few photographs and a lot of stills from one of her Super 8 film projects. She deliberately chooses motion-blurred, overexposed, grainy frames that dialog with the text without there being an explicit link.
Heather Christle. The Crying Book. NY: Catapult, 2019. Brief prose pieces and excerpts from other writers about crying, interspersed with occasional photographs.
Jeremy Cooper. Ash Before Oak. London: Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2019. A novel in the form of a diary, with numerous photographs by the author and some credited to Helen Knight, Frances Richardson, and Corinne Schneider of Lower Terhill, in rural Somerset.
Jennifer Croft. Homesick. Los Angeles: The Unnamed Press, 2019. A novel with photographs by the author and her mother Laurie Croft. I reviewed the book in December.
Emma Donoghue. Akin. NY: Little Brown, 2019. Her novel contains five photographs credited to various sources.
Daša Drndić. EEG. NY: New Directions, 2019. Her final novel contains photographs, as did a number of her other titles. Translated from the original 2016 Croatian of the same title by Celia Hawkesworth.
Shira Erlichman. Odes to Lithium. Farmington, Maine: Alice James Books, 2019. Poems that serve as a love letter to lithium, Erlichman’s medication for bipolar disorder. With photographs and her own line drawings.
Steve Finbow & Karolina Urbaniak. Death Mort Tod. London: Infinity Land Press, 2019. “A country-to-country death trip, a necro-travel guide, a Baedeker of bereavement, incorporating myth, folklore, maps, reportage, photographs, recordings, illustrations and poetry . . . A European Book of the Dead . . . All photographs, photomontages, collages, drawings and installations [by Urbaniak] were originally produced to illustrate the text without use of any external sources/materials. Clay, sand, ash, animal bones, blood, paint, salt, thread, mud, or human hair can be found among a variety of used materials.”
David Johnson and Philip Matthews. Wig Heavier Than a Boot. Queens: Kris Graves Projects, 2019. Photography by David Johnson and poetry by Philip Matthews. This collaborative project “reveal[s] dynamic relationships between author, character, and observer. . . .[that] opens up a conversation about gender expression through an art-historical lens.”
Jiří Kolář. A User’s Manual. Prague: Twisted Spoon Press, 2019. 52 poems paired with 52 collages that contain photographs, other types of imagery, and words. From the publisher’s website: “Taking the form of directives, largely absurd, the poems mock communist society’s officialese while offering readers an opportunity to create their own poetics by performing the given directions. The collages on the facing pages to the poems are composed of layered documents, image cutouts, newspaper clippings, announcements, letter fragments, reports, or decontextualized words, oftentimes forming concrete patterns or the outlines of figures, to create a sort of “evidential” report on the year. Text and image taken together, the volume displays Kolář’s enduring interest in extracting poetry from the mundane to demolish the barrier separating art from reality, or even to elevate reality itself through this dual poetics to the level of art.” A translation by Ryan Scott from the 1969 Czech original.
Valeria Luiselli. Lost Children Archive. NY: Knopf, 2019. In Luiselli’s novel, an author much like herself, accompanied by her husband and their two children, narrates their journey west, a westward journey that has echoes of sojourns made by countless 19th families in Conestoga wagons. Her husband is heading to the Apacheria territory of Arizona to make a documentary on Geronimo, while the narrator is following the plight of Central American children who have been separated from their parents at the US border as they attempt to cross into this country. As she tries to understand how best to document this story, both parents are trying to explain to their children the tragic stories of the Apaches and the family separations. Eventually, the two children become lost for a few frantic days and the boy narrates their attempt to locate their parents. The book includes maps, drawings, historical photographs, and a number of Polaroid photographs purportedly taken by the young boy.
Agustin Fernandez Mallo, Nocilla Lab. London: Fitzcarraldo, 2019. Only this third volume in Mallo’s Nocilla series includes photographs. Translated from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead.
New Juche. The Devils. n.p. Amphetamine Sulphate, 2019. Part true crime, part memoir, part occult, always unnerving. With four photographs.
Christopher Pavone. The Paris Diversion. NY: Crown, 2019. The fourth book in this mystery/spy series contains stock photographs of famous Paris’s tourist sites on the title page and at the beginning of each of the book’s five sections.
Adam Scovell. Mothlight. London: Influx, 2019. A novel about a lepidopterist and gender fluidity using about thirty snapshots from a collection that the author inherited. See my review of Mothlight here.
Leanne Shapton. Guestbook: Ghost Stories. NY: Riverhead Books, 2019. Short stories based around images that include drawings by the author, found photographs, stock photographs, and other images.
C.D Wright. Casting Deep Shade. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2019. Poetry and prose on beech trees with photographs by Denny Moers. Posthumously published.
Andrew Zawicki. Unsun. Toronto: Coach House Press, 2019. Zawicki’s poems deal with “the possibilities and dangers of a ‘global pastoral,’ exploring geographies alternately enhanced and flattened out by digital networks, international transit, the uneven and invisible movements of capital, and the unrelenting feedback loops of data surveillance, weather disaster, war” (publisher’s blurb). Some photographs by the author.
Andrew Zawicki. Waterfall Plot. Boston: Greying Ghost, 2019. A chapbook that excerpts a series of poems and photographs from his book Unsun (above). Zawicki’s poem is loosely based on the “Wheel-Rim River” suite by eighth-century Chinese poet, painter, musician, and politician Wang Wei. The accompanying photographs by Zawicki resemble landscapes and skyscapes, but were actually taken at a compound of chicken coops.