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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, like nothing else I've ever read
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...
Published on 18 April 2009 by emma who reads a lot

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Original and intimate
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...
Published on 17 Dec 2009 by J. Coulton


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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, like nothing else I've ever read, 18 April 2009
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emma who reads a lot (London) - See all my reviews
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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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Original and intimate, 17 Dec 2009
By 
J. Coulton "Julia Coulton" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry (Paperback)
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. The only words are the descriptions of each catalogue entry, but it feels as if we have lived each intimate and argument moment with them. A very original and creative idea which is very well executed and enjoyable, if a little sad in its seemingly inevitable conclusion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, unusual book, 2 July 2014
This review is from: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry (Paperback)
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. Set out in the form of an auction catalogue, this books tells the story of the four-year relationship of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, all through photographs and short descriptions of the auction lots. Each lot comprises of something owned, acquired, used or sent by the couple during their relationship, everything from clothes to photographs, postcards to bathing suits, broken crockery to homemade birthday cards.

The book begins with a note from Hal, telling Lenore that of all his past loves, she is the one he regrets losing. So we know from the very first page that the relationship doesn't last. That didn't stop me from wanting it to work out for the couple. I fell for Hal and Lenore very quickly and although by the end I had taken sides in their break-up, I still felt as though old friends had parted and I was a little poorer for it.

It's a beautiful book. It works so well, the concept is original and beautiful and it seems to have become one of my constants, a book I return to again and again.
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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
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This review is from: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry (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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!! The story of a relationship told through a couple's collected objects., 11 Nov 2009
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This review is from: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry (Paperback)
I received this book as a present last Saturday and by Sunday morning I had finished reading it. It is one of the most unusual books I have read in recent weeks and it deserves to sell and sell and sell!

It is structured as an auction catalogue where the collection of objects that one couple have build up during their time together is being sold off. Through the choice of objects (clothes, books, invitations to parties, postcards, unsent notes) we discover the course of their relationship from beginning to end. The majority of the lots are accompanied by a photo (as you would expect from a real auction catalogue) and a short description. If you are curious (nosy is such a negative word) and have ever wondered what goes on behind closed doors this book is great as it allows you to take a glimpse into another couple's life together. I found that it was a similar experience to reading someone else's diary which is always a forbidden pleasure.

Just as in a more conventional novel, I found my mind would jump ahead wondering what would happen later in their story. I also had a really clear vision in my mind of the two main characters (Leonore Doolan and Harald Morris who by profession are a food writer and a photographer) were. The objects chosen help to paint a picture of their interests and passions, their personalities (good and bad aspects), and their hopes and dreams for the future. There is something that rings very true about these two people and, after having read the book, I was completely convinced by their relationship.

After reading the book I started to look around at the things that I have in my flat and what they say about me and my relationship with my partner. It is amazing how each object, no matter how insignificant, manages to say something new about the life you have built up together. This is a great present for that quirky person in your life. My sister is a big fan of eBay so I think she might find one of these in her Christmas stocking this year.
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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 "gaskella2" (Nr Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry (Paperback)
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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect and quirky, 25 Dec 2009
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Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry (Paperback)
This was on my christmas list after seeing it reviewed on India Knight's Posterous. I received it this morning from my husband and have spent one of the nicest Christmas afternoons of my life reading it. It's a gorgeous book. A relationship told in the form of an auction catalogue of the belongings of the couple. I particularly like how there are little gaps which just list lot numbers but say: 'these lots have been removed', it all adds to the intrigue and the need to know what was missing. It is full of details like this, and makes you think of your own life in terms of objects you might leave behind. I loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love for Sale, 22 Mar 2011
This review is from: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry (Paperback)
This is a cross between a photo-love story and having a really good nose around a stranger's appartment. I read it in one sitting and will re-visit it in time to hoover up all the clues and jokes that I probably missed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Original but ends too soon, 14 Jan 2010
This review is from: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry (Paperback)
This is a great book and it is so refreshing to pick up something that is so originally excuted. I only wish the story had continued - the build up to the relationship is well documented but it would have been nice to the same detail to have been given to the breakdown of the relationship. I was just getting into the characters and starting to care when it all came to an abrupt end. Brilliant while it lasts though.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ever wanted to rifle through someone else's drawers?, 19 Aug 2011
This review is from: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry (Paperback)
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 moments, as well as getting to the heart of the problems they face as a couple - All illustrated through black and white pictures of the everyday items collected as they move through life together. We see books, clothes, party invitations, photographs, ornaments, and handwritten notes, all with a separate meaning of their own. Together they paint a surprisingly intimate and romantic picture of this modern couple. It is both funny (a Christmas card from Leonore's parents addressed to Leonore and HOWARD!), sad (the note from Leonore to Harold on his birthday and achingly lonely unsent letters), and weird (the sex t-shirt!?!), but all the time natural, real and sensitive.

Indeed, it feels so authentic that it is hard to believe it's a work of fiction, but it is. The one thing which is not entirely fictional is the social picture it paints; How we function as human beings in western society, the importance we attach to material things and how we relate to each other. All in all this pictorial social commentary is a really clever snapshot of adulthood and relationships in the 21st century.
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