In Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Leanne ShaptonToo much talk can be a powerful force for keeping others at bay. Have you ever met an extremely gregarious, chatty type who wilted your ears with their non-stop verbiage, but you later noticed you hadn’t learned much about the speaker, and the speaker certainly learned nothing of you?
While some people can ramble on in a meaningful and revealing way, rambling usually stops real discussion. Lately there’s been much talk of speaking, especially in abstract discussions, being a largely left brained activity. The left brain analyzes detail, and falls in love with its own intellectual self. The right brain prefers verbal brevity and loves pictures. The right brain is associated more with loving others. Although I intend to focus on novels in this blog, especially in its early days, I recommend Leonard Shlain’s The Alphabet versus the Goddess for a unique understanding of what much intellectualizing does to our brains and emotions.
Meanwhile, today we look at Leanne Shapton’s In Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris. Although this is essentially a classical girl meets boy, loses boy type of story, it’s also a wonderful look at brevity and imagery.
The entire story is told through an author created auction catalogue of the detritus from a romantic relationship. Just as any catalogue would do, this one lists, pictures and describes all objects for sale. A photograph, a chair, pajamas-- seemingly mute, but they piece together the rise and fall of the romance succinctly and evocatively. I loved how this author used the slimmest information, such as a photograph or brief post-it note, to reveal so much about character motivation. The tone comes across as terse and ironic at points, and wistful and lamenting at others. While I’m not usually an admirer of love stories, ending happily or otherwise, I enjoyed how this author used brevity to tell her story. Both books discussed here will provide some great literature therapy, or as those old school librarians say, bibliotherapy.