The Detritus of Love

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Important Artifacts and Personal; Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris by Leanne Shapton

Think about the gifts you’ve received over the years. Most of these, I imagine, came from people you love, your family, friends, siblings, children, a spouse or significant other. It’s strange to think about, but remove the people, and the objects in your home say something about you as a person and about your relationships.

Which brings me to a strange and beautiful book. I’m not exactly how to classify it. What is it? A novel? A graphic novel? Leanne Shapton’s Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry is an utterly original take on the depiction of relationships in literature. The book purports to be the catalog of an upcoming auction by the house of Strachan & Quinn Auctioneers. The contents of the catalog, as described in the title, are the personal objects from the former couple Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris.

Each item in the catalog is an object that somehow reflects the relationship of Doolan and Morris and includes gifts they gave each other, clothing purchased by and for the other, as well as love notes, photos and emails. As can be surmised from catalog, the relationship ends bitterly. What remains are the accumulated artifacts of several years of love.

The book is unique and fun to flip through. However, the book is more than a gimmick. In almost voyeuristic fashion, the reader becomes privy to the joys, fights and quirks of Doolan and Morris’ romance. Through the notes and items remaining, a tragic picture of a relationship takes shape, one that ultimately leaves the reader pondering the nature of relationships and the reasons humans form them and break them.

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