Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Books With Pictures

Dear Blog-friends, please forgive my lack of blogging lately. I seem to have a bad case of Bloggage of the Arteries!
But I have been doing some dandy reading -- just finished the latest Ondaatje novel, [The Cat's Table] and I liked it, but I am too lazy to write about it, much less do a proper review. As an aside, I have been so bereft of reviewing in the past year or so that I've quit receiving [or asking to receive] free review books from my good friends at Random House.
Currently I am reading W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants.
I'm thoroughly enjoying it, as I did his Austerlitz, but I hasten to add that Sebaldianism© in general is not the sort of… genre that would appeal to a wide audience. His books tend to dwell heavily upon recollection, [memories, retrospect, etc.,] which is to say that they do not thrive on plot. Most of the subject matter deals, in literary terms, with the trauma of World War II and its effects on the German people.
One thing that very much appeals to me is the use of photographs in his books. Every so often photographs appear on the page to illustrate the current discussion. I find myself studying these photographs -- it gives his work a sort of scrapbook appeal.
Other authors use this technique [I think of Alain de Botton] and I am aware of a recent book by Umberto Eco that does a similar thing -- I'm just wondering if any of my readers can recommend other authors that employ photographs or images amid their text.
Is this something you enjoy in a novel, or do you find it distracting?
It is so sad that W.G. Sebald, at the age of 57, died in a car crash in 2001. I think the world [tragically] lost a truly terrific author.



Stefanie said...

Oh I love Sebald! I've read Vertigo and Rings of Saturn and have Austerlitz on my shelf waiting patiently. I just recently received a review copy of his poetry. Had no idea he wrote poetry. I am looking forward to dipping into that. As for photos in novels, I can't think of anyone else who does that. There must be others though. I like the photos, they lend an air of concrete reality to the story.

Beth said...

I don’t really find it distracting – I rather enjoy pictures in books. (A holdover from childhood?) But, I always sneak a peek at all the pictures well before I’m at that point in the book.

Anonymous said...

You should read Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He uses illustrations, not photographs, but the effect is really interesting.