Book Review: Still by Roelof Bakker (Ed.)
February 12, 2013 15 Comments
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
Genre: short stories, photography
Extra: Link to publisher’s website
Have you read this book?
What did you think?