Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Life as Auction Catalog

Paul Collins catches a neat story in the 4 February NYTimes, about a new novel in the form of an auction catalog. The idea for Leanne Shapton's Important Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry (just out from Farrar, Straus and Giroux), "came to her because she noticed how the lot descriptions in some estate catalogs added up to elliptical plots about the lives of the former possessors," Randy Kennedy writes in the Times story.

A fascinating twist on the genre, but of course as Paul Collins points out, fictional auction catalogs are nothing new: he finds a 1790 satirical book auction catalog (that I am now hunting for a copy of!), and mentions the online version of Fortsas' catalog, in which I played a minor role.