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Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry [Paperback]

Leanne Shapton
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 10.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 Nov 2009
Lenore Doolan, a food writer for the New York Times, meets Harold Morris, a photographer, at a halloween party in 2002. He is dressed as Harry Houdini. In Leanne Shapton's marvellously inventive and invented auction catalogue, the 325 lots up for auction are what remain from the relationship between Lenore and Harold (who aren't real people, but might as well be). Through photographs of the couple's personal effects-the usual auction items (jewellery, fine art, and rare furniture) and the seemingly worthless (pyjamas, Post-it notes, worn paperbacks)-the story of a failed love affair vividly and cleverly emerges. From first meeting to final separation, the progress and rituals of intimacy are revealed through the couple's accumulated relics and memorabilia. And a love story, in all its tenderness and struggle, emerges from the evidence that has been left behind, laid out for us to appraise and appreciate. In Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris Leanne Shapton invites us to contemplate what is truly valuable, and to consider the art we make of our private lives.

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Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry + Swimming Studies + Was She Pretty?
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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408804727
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408804728
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 18.2 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 115,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Leanne Shapton is an illustrator, writer and publisher who was born in Toronto and now lives in New York. She is the art director of the New York Times op-ed page and co-founder of J&L Books, a nonprofit publishing company specializing in new photography, art and fiction. She is the author of Was She Pretty? and Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris.

Product Description

Review

`Set to be the surprise literary hit of the autumn ... There is a voyeuristic pleasure in sifting through the photos of these objects ... The book is a time capsule of a life together - each memory with a price tag - and also a comedy of manners, which gently mocks its stylish protagonists' careful consumption' --Sunday Telegraph

`a unique ode to a broken relationship ... One couple's love story through a series of annotated photographs of their possessions, from party invites to birthday gifts'
--Grazia

`Part novel, part art project and part homage to the romantic gifts of her past, Important Artifacts ... by Leanne Shapton is a unique love story' --Elle

'An oblique, imaginative and thought-provoking look at the fallout from falling in love'
--Sunday Express

`Perfectly details the provenance of love and disillusion A true original' -- Independent

About the Author

Leanne Shapton is an illustrator, writer and publisher who was born in Toronto and now lives in New York. She is the art director of the New York Times op-ed page and co-founder of J&L Books, a nonprofit publishing company specializing in new photography, art and fiction. She is the author of Was She Pretty?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, like nothing else I've ever read 18 April 2009
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I ordered this because I read a review of it on Boldtype, but even that didn't really prepare me for how well the cool idea behind the book is put into practice. The book poses as an auction catalogue for the sale of all the shared objects exchanged by two lovers during their now-ended relationship. But it's just so amazingly well done. How a mere auction catalogue can tell the story so well... of how they fell in love, of how they experienced a few tricky times, of what they hated about each other as well as what they loved.. it's astounding.

Leanne Shapton made the book by 'casting' two people to play the main parts of Leonore and Hal, then assembling all the things that they gave each other, which is just the most unbelievable labour of love on her part. But the result is really a brilliant book. Makes you think about how ordinary fictions are constructed, and how original this is; but also it is a great love story. The best present - I just ordered three more copies for my sister, best friend and cousin as I know they will all love it. I cannot recommend it more highly.

PS update
googling looking for my original reference i found that Brad Pitt and Natalie Portman are rumoured to be taking on the parts for a film...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Original and intimate 17 Dec 2009
By J. Coulton VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is by far the most original novel, if indeed that is what it can be called, that I have read this year. I am struggling with the classification, as what Leanne Shapton has created here is the story of a relationship, told via an auction catalogue containing various bits of material evidence of that relationship, and the possession that chart its ebbs and flows.

It is told via the black and white photographs in the catalogue that being with the meeting of Lenore and Harold, affectionately know as Hal and Buttertart, at a friend's Halloween party and tracking their relationship in a very revealing, intimate and entirely original way. Indeed it is so obvious that it's a wonder no-one thought if it before. We all do it (or maybe that's just the females of the species). We keep mementos of our lovers in the form of cards received, tickets from events we have attended together, e mails we have exchanged, gifts we have given, and photographs to chart all this so lovingly.

Lenore is a Canadian living in New York who is starting out on her career as a food writer with an occasional newspaper column about cake. Fellow New Yorker Hal is a British slightly older man whose career as a photographer frequently takes him away from his girlfriend. The way is which this book takes us right to the heart of the intimate little exchanges between this couple feels almost indecent.

And we see the relationship blossom, flounder, and unravel before our eyes. He is a bit of a commitment phobe who also needs a psychiatrist. She is a lively cake creator who catalogues the minutiae of their partnership in a borderline obsessive manner.

Shapton makes us like these characters, and really feel for them as we take the journey with them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars copping out on a clever idea 11 Oct 2011
By monica
Format:Paperback
This book was a disappointment: A story told through an auction catalogue sounded promising but in the event the conceit of the catalogue wasn't fully exploited and the story itself was a bog-standard one.

I'm not sure that Shapton's tale wouldn't have been better related in a standard short story, given that she relies upon heavy-handed contrivances like letters found in books, notes scribbled on theatre programmes, and photos of the couple (things that, as other reviews have noted, are not customarily auctioned). It's through these and not through the belongings that what story there is is told. Once or twice Shapton begins to make good use of her format: a catalogue description notes that the backgammon board is charred, but rather than providing subtle clues here and there hinting why the game is damaged she immediately moves from it to yet another note from Morris to Doolan, this one telling us how it was burned. A clever writer dedicating more thought to the book could no doubt have depicted Morris's travels, Doolan's hot temper, and the pair's tiffs and reconciliations through the lots themselves.

Important Artifacts isn't bad and though hardly gripping it did hold my interest. And the one glint of humour merits 1/2 star: Lot 1119, salt and pepper shakers in the form of rather seal-headed dachshunds. 2 1/2 stars.

(edit, a few months later) I've just read a story of a successful though not quite high-flying businessman whose downfall leads to a violent death. It wasn't subtle--but neither is Shapton's story--and it was told in a sequence of sixteen till receipts shown without comment. So this sort of thing can be done. Bit of a shame that Shapton didn't try harder to do it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary book about two ordinary people 13 July 2010
By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book deserves to win prizes for its concept which is totally unlike anything I've ever seen (or read) before. It's the story of a relationship from start to finish, but presented in the form of an auction catalogue of the couple's 'stuff' - so original, so clever, but does it work?

Lenore is a food writer for a New York newspaper, Harold is a photographer. They meet at a Halloween party, fall in and ultimately, out of love. They're the sort of couple who are always taking photos of themselves, individually or setting the timer and posing. They write notes too - from post-it reminders on the fridge, to endearments tucked into things, to letters expressing love, frustration, anger ...

Their life together is represented by 325 lots, comprising many of their photos, notes, and other ephemera (I love that word!), as well as books, knick-knacks and household items. Most are illustrated; the accompanying text gives the physical details of the lots including condition reports plus an estimate - just like in a real auction catalogue, there is no further elaboration.

It was fascinating to see what was going to come up next, but I found this book so frustrating. I mean, who (except the owner's mother), would ever consider bidding for a lot of three oven gloves, two of which were well worn, estimate $20-$45, unless they were from the top celebrity chef du jour? This couple may have been well-known within their professional circles, but outside that, who would go to an auction of their cast-offs? It was this juxtaposition of fantasy versus reality that partially put me off. It also smacks of doing one's dirty washing in public - we can celebrate the couple's initial euphoria of being in love with them without being too voyeuristic, but by the time their relationship started to fade, my interest did rather too as I didn't want to intrude.
In summary, I was rather underwhelmed by this unusually-styled romance.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, unusual book
One of my favourite books, which I have read and re-read countless times.

It's an unusual format which might not be to everyone's liking. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Queen of Denmark
5.0 out of 5 stars they had it all, and hereit is.
brilliant, new way to show the path of a relationship, with ,in this case the petering out of it all.
Published 7 months ago by Country bookseller
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting indeed...
I bought this book to read something a bit different in format - if you want to read a story, but in a different format e.g. a catalogue - give this a try. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Dandyhighwaywoman
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was bought as a gift
I liked the look and concept of this book and it arrived swiftly when i ordered it, but I can't really comment beyond that as i bought it for someone else and though they were... Read more
Published 16 months ago by ohnafalby
4.0 out of 5 stars Ever wanted to rifle through someone else's drawers?
In this unusual novel (Graphic novel? Auction catalogue?), we follow the relationship of Leonore Dooland and Harold Morris, from first meeting through lovers tiffs and milestone... Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2011 by Book 1981
4.0 out of 5 stars Love for Sale
This is a cross between a photo-love story and having a really good nose around a stranger's appartment. Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2011 by Coco
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of...
This is an excellent book. Great to read when approached as a novel and equally fascinating as a fictional anthropological text and work of art.
Published on 20 Mar 2011 by saliva
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The concept is interesting. However the 'lots' contain many scrappy handwritten notes or emails which are needed to tell the story but are not worthy of auctioning. Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2011 by jsy44
5.0 out of 5 stars completely absorbing
Although I had bought this book knowing it was fiction by the time it arrived and I began reading I'd completely forgotten that. Read more
Published on 28 April 2010 by Jean Power
5.0 out of 5 stars An Account of Artifacts of Love That Ring True
I am still pondering if `Important Artifacts and...' is a novel or not as it does tell a tale incredibly well. Read more
Published on 12 Mar 2010 by Simon Savidge Reads
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