By Jonathan Coe

this book is one of the loveliest i have come across in a good long while. i mean this not only in the sense that it contains a moving sweet and poignant story, but in the physical manifestation of of its book-ness. i went on about this at length last week when i first picked it up, at random, in the library. so, my sometimes spastic decision making process for book selection, in this case, bore fruit.

i was intoxicated by the premise of this novel. being vaguely obsessed, as i am, with the seeing of things. i have proper vision in only one eye, and so stories about how we see the world other than with our eyes are always resonate for me. in this case the bulk of this story is conveyed through the lens of hearing a memoir recorded to audio tape. this is done because the intended listener would not be able to read a written account, for she is blind. more, the format of this recollection is guided by the teller of the tale describing her life through a series of photographs.

the way this weaves left me breathless. photographs hold a special fascination for me, though i am incapable of taking a decent one… it is an art form for which i have the highest respect. my friend lyza has created some of the most breathtaking images i have ever seen in my life and it is in many ways, the only medium through which i am truly able to see things in their fullest reality, frozen in a discrete moment. i believe there is something inherently magical about photography and its ability to capture a singular moment in time and translate it into an enduring thing.

and this is at the core of this book. capturing a moment, holding it just so, and then attempting to translate the image into words that are also images for someone who has no eyesight,, but can still be made to see; to be transported to a place in and of time in picture and word, by image paired with sound.

the story itself was engaging enough, and well written, but i’ll admit to being so swept away by the very notion of this way of storytelling that i’m not sure it would have mattered. i’ll need to read other works by this author to really decide how i feel about his writing.