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Photo-Embedded Literature

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  1. G Head #

    2 photo embedded books Sebald should have read? If only he could? “The Arriere – pays” by Yves Bonnefoy. Pub: Seagull Books & “Bomber Country” by Daniel Swift Pub. Hamish Hamilton
    The 1st a journey with forks in the path which cause hesitations with stories which are being built up and then dismantled. The 2nd is a reply to “On the Natural History of Destruction” from the allies viewpoint.A grandson and son trace their grand/father bomber pilot flights and descent into the North Sea whose body is then washed up on a Dutch beach in the dying embers of W.WII using contemporary poetry, interviews,memoirs and official documents.
    An added 3rd is “The Box Man” by Obo Abe about the adventures of a man who wears a box ( a bit like “I am a (card box) camera” with slits rather then one peep hole). With photos secretly taken by the author.

    August 12, 2013
  2. aileverte #

    I have enjoyed your blog, and your entries on photography & fiction have helped add to my own growing collection. I’ve just come across a recent publication which I think might be worth including in your 2013 list: “Permission” by S.D. Chrostowska (Dalkey Archives). I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. In a manner similar to Sebald’s, this Polish-Canadian writer includes photographs clipped from newspapers (Gazeta Wyborcza), ethnographic images, amateur photographs – mostly uncredited (except when copyright infringement demands otherwise, on page iv, and mostly without captions). The novel is the form of [email] correspondence – and the first pages are rather promising.


    Following up on your entry on Jacques Roubaud’s work, I would also like to recommend Alix Roubaud’s journal, which contains many photographs taken by the artist (translated into English in 2010, also from Dalkey Archives.)

    October 31, 2013
    • Thanks for the two suggestions – I will get Permission and Alix Roubaud’s journal! – Terry

      November 4, 2013
  3. Hi,

    There is a poetry book by Joseph Brodsky with black and white photos from Mikhail Lemkhin. It is a very beautiful piece of work named “Nativity Poems” published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York). My edition is from 2001.
    I hope you find it.
    Love your blog!

    All the best,

    November 3, 2013
    • Super suggestion. I have several of Brodsky’s books, but not this one. I saw him read once in the 1990s. – Terry

      November 4, 2013
  4. Nice blog and it gives me some suggestions to look at. I am thinking of making a photo novel and have a hard time finding anything to compare it to and actually I was beginning to wonder if what I was wanting to do existed.

    May 20, 2014
    • I have been really surprised that there aren’t more contemporary photo-novels. Please do one and let me know about it! – Terry

      May 22, 2014
  5. I am not sure whether you’ve mentioned this book on your blog but just realized, browsing in a bookstore, that Minae Mizumura’s book, “A True Novel”, which I’d read some positive reviews of, contains photographs: the whole two-volume book is printed on heavy glossy paper (rather odd in a work of fiction) and features several B&W full-page snapshots in each volume.

    May 30, 2014
    • I have not mentioned A True Novel yet, but I recently read it and will probably post something this summer. Thanks for the suggestion!

      May 30, 2014
  6. xav31vincent #

    Hi !
    Nice blog ! I don’t know if you’re interested in books in foreign langages.
    If yes, there’s this collection of french books :
    The principle is that the editor gives the author a serie of photographs and he has to write a novel including them, without knowing nothing about them.
    All the best !

    February 16, 2015
  7. Here’s another book to add to your embedded-photography fiction list: Georgi Gospodinov, The Physics of Sorrow (Open Letter press) – a labyrinthine novel with a handful of uncredited photos and other small illustrations. I’m ashamed to admit, my first foray into Bulgarian literature. Highly recommended, illustrations or not.

    April 2, 2015
  8. Thanks! I just ordered Gospodinov’s book.

    April 2, 2015
    • Thanks, Jan. I just ordered this.

      May 30, 2015
  9. I’ve just come across this book review on LARB: — the book does it seem to mention Sebald, but it sounds like it raises similar questions regarding the nature of place & our relation to it, personal narrative vs “objectivity”, and the documentary value of photographs.

    June 8, 2015
    • Very interesting. I will have to read this. Thanks!

      June 8, 2015
  10. Apologies if this has already been mentioned somewhere, but Julio Cortázar published two works, La vuelta al día en ochenta mundos and Último round, that mix photographs, engravings, and other illustrations in with the text (which is made up of essays, poems, stories, etc.). A selection of the contents of both works was published in English under the title of Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, but much of the material has never been translated into English.

    August 25, 2015
    • Chris, Thanks! I’ve wondered about other books by Cortazar. I’ll check these out.

      August 26, 2015
  11. Are you aware of this book published by Dalkey ?

    November 29, 2016
    • Albert, Thanks! It’s new to me. Ive just ordered a copy.

      November 29, 2016
  12. jljl #

    good article

    January 1, 2018
  13. Thank you for your terrific work. Roger Boylan, a Dalkey Archives and Grove author, recommended Sebald’s work, and thus on to you, after discussing my own visual-verbal struggles with Instagram. It’s an engaging and confounding medium–in search of a creative director?

    June 16, 2018
    • Bill, Thanks for the kind words. I liked the paintings on your website very much.

      June 16, 2018
  14. Many thanks!

    June 18, 2018
  15. Rupert #

    Enjoying this, as ever. You might like to add Agustin Fernandez Mallo’s new fiction, The Things We’ve Seen (Fitzcarraldo, 2021) to your list. It’s a great book.

    March 10, 2021
  16. Rupert, Thank you. I will snap this up when it comes out in a few weeks.

    March 10, 2021
  17. Rupert #

    do you know Alice in Venice, Ellis Sharp (Zoilus Press) 2021?
    a strange novella in sections, most having at least one photo as well as text. Kind of writes back to Nic Roeg’s film Don’t Look Now

    February 1, 2023
  18. Rupert, I enjoyed Sharp’s novel. In my Reading Log last year I wrote: “Sharp’s photo-embedded novella is titled to remind us of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, while its only characters—Alice and Alain—overtly track Nicholas Roeg’s 1973 film “Don’t Look Now” throughout Venice. Roeg’s film, in turn, is based on Daphne du Maurier’s last short story of the same name. “Alice feels as if she’s wandered into Roeg’s film.” Sharp’s writing is deliberately disjointed, giving the novella, which is written in the present tense, a hectic sense. There are scores of b&w photographs of Venice by the author.” The Modern Novel does a very good job of sorting out “Alice in Venice” so that now I actually understand some things that confused me. Several years ago I read his book of short stories, “Quin Again and Other Stories,” (Jetstone, 2015), which I thought was excellent. The title story was an homage to Ann Quin, the British novelist. I guess I need to read more Ellis Sharp. Send me a link to your review when it’s out.

    February 1, 2023

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