Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Anne Michaels and Bernice Eisenstein, Correspondences, New York: Knopf, 2013.

All the reviews of this collaboration between the poet Anne Michaels and artist Bernice Eisenstein, exclaim at the beautiful production of this accordion and its renowned collaborators – and yet, after a quick search you can find copies selling for $5 on amazon!

About the production, yes, a great deal of care has been taken with the slipcover the book slides into, the chord that holds the accordion together and the general print quality of the artworks and the layout in general.

The book has two distinct sides. On opening the book the reader encounters portraits of 20th century writers and thinkers accompanied by short quotes by each individual. On the back is the poem "Correspondences" by Anna Michaels, which is a moving elegy to her deceased father. In fact, death pervades this book, the works by Eisenstein are done in a pale lifeless style and they somehow match the accompanying quotes which all attempt to convey something of the beauty and secrets of these people's lives. And Michael's poem delves deep into the death of a clearly beloved father, and her memories of him in life.

I guess I'm left with a rather curious question with this book — why the accordion format? While I understand that it presents this collaboration within a unique format, and it brings together two quite different artists' works in a workable manner. However, the book doesn't actually utilize any of the special qualities of the accordion format in any meaningful way, and frankly I think it could work just as well as a regular book!

62 pages, double-sided, individual pages 9" (h) x 6" (w), when fully opened 32'.

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