Book Review: Still by Roelof Bakker (Ed.)

Still by Roelof Bakker (Ed.)


This book is the result of a project by photographer Roelof Bakker, who took a series of photographs of an abandoned London town hall. He then asked 26 known and lesser known authors to write a short story based on one of the photographs.

I had only read novels by four of the authors, but all have had several novels published or won prizes with their debut writing.

The length of the stories differed from 2 pages to 5 or 6 pages. The book itself was very well presented, with heavy paper and very good quality photographs.

I loved some of the stories and was indifferent towards others. Some I didn’t understand at all. In all cases, it was fascinating to see how each author had been inspired by a photograph (shown before each story). Some of the stories stayed quite close to the scene depicted while others strayed far away from the abandoned building idea.

My favorite story was a surprising academic report from time in a very far future, looking back on the First Digital Age (2000-2037) by James Miller. This was a satire of how academics take hold of just any piece of historical information and try to make sense of it in connection to other known information. For instance “Scolars have identified the three wise men [from the Nativity] as Freud, Lacan and Jung.” All this with a fine list of footnotes. I chuckled through this story.

Another great surrealistic story was that of Claire Massey, in which a woman recalls her ballet lessons at the age of seven, during which she made the discovery of a faulty mirror, that made her scared of mirrors for life.

Some of the short stories recalled a place or object that the authors knew in the past, and these read more like memoirs than stories, which I liked less.

Overall, this was a beautiful book with great pictures and some very good short stories.


Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Number of pages: 188

First published: 2012

I got this book: received for review from the author

Genre: short stories, photography

Extra: Link to publisher’s website

Have you read this book?

What did you think?

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About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

15 Responses to Book Review: Still by Roelof Bakker (Ed.)

  1. emmarae89 says:

    I love the idea behind this, it sounds great.

  2. bibliosue says:

    What an interesting concept.

  3. Charlie says:

    Miller’s story was my favourite, too. I loved the mixture of non-fiction and fiction and at times it just felt “spot on” so to speak. Sometimes the stories did seem vague, but I felt it was the underlying… message? theme?… that was to be understood, rather than the story itself. I could be completely wrong there, though. Great review, Judith, and I’m going to have to look and see if you’re mentioned those four authors before, because I feel rather ashamed not to have read only one!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Charlie, don’t feel ashamed! You can’t possibly read every possible author. The ones I’ve read are SL Grey, Jan van Mersbergen, Preeta Samarasan and ??? (not sure now).

  4. Roxanne says:

    Sounds like something my boyfriend would like, even though he doesn’t read books. He used to take pictures of abandoned places and he even wrote blogposts about those pictures for a while.

  5. parrish lantern says:

    I enjoyed this collection, when I read it & as you state some more than others but overall I liked the concept & thought it worked well

    • Leeswammes says:

      Gary, I agree. And given that I’m not really a short story reader, I did appreciate the book a lot. It’s a work of art – very nice to look at and hold too.

  6. susanbright says:

    Sounds intriguing. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention!

  7. Isi says:

    The idea is original, and as you say, is interesting to see what people develop from the same picture. Anyway, short stories is not the genre I like most.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Isi, I’m not so keen on short stories, but there were some really good ones here.

      The authors didn’t use the *same* picture, they all had a different picture to base their story on.

  8. Tesney Ap says:

    The idea behind is book is very interesting. I would really enjoy seeing those photograph as well as reading the stories.

  9. Leslie says:

    Interesting idea, and I’m pretty sure I would like it as I enjoy both photography and short stories. (When I do a search for the title it comes up ‘not available’, so maybe it’s not published in the US.)

  10. Pingback: ‘Still’ | Update online reviews and posts | Negative Press London

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