A book of oddities.

It’s my mother’s 71st birthday in a couple weeks. I know, I know: She is very old, to have a daughter as young as my green tender self. But sometimes these things happen, as they say… What’s most unexpected about our age difference is not the fact that she had my older sister and I at the end of her thirties and start of her forties, but rather that we are her only children. Most later mothers began early and kept going, whereas my mom just never got knocked up until… Surprise!

And here we are.

I like to send her books as gifts, because she sends so many to me; it’s a passion we share. My usual modus operandi is to think through the ones I’ve borrowed from the library in the past year, and then track down any I think she’d like, via online book sellers. In past years, I’ve sent her gems such as Scandanavia Beckons by Amy and Thornton Oakley, The First Century after Beatrice by Amin Maalouf, and My Turquoise Years by M.A.C. Farrant… Like me, she loves travelogues, speculative fiction, and memoirs.

She also appreciates books of oddities, which is why for this latest collection of birthday volumes I’m including The Book of Shadows, edited by Jeffrey Fraenkel (of the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco). Oats has to take credit for finding this one, when we were killing time at the downtown library a couple weeks ago. We’re very rarely at the library together, let alone hanging out there with no specific goal, so it was especially fun to drift through the fine arts section and look through random books together. I think this one jumped out at her from the shelf because of the strange velveteen texture of its cover, or perhaps the spooky font. I flipped through it once and immediately found this photo:

Yep, I’m sold.

Awesome queer action aside, this book is rad: Fraenkel simply presents us with selections from his extensive collection of diverse photographs that all feature the shadow of the person taking the photo. The presence of these unknown photographers are thus imposed into the scenes that weren’t necessarily meant to include them… And Fraenkel provides no commentary, no text, no explanation of where he sourced the pic. It effectively elevates the photos to being works of art, and records of events that include reminders of all that did not fit into the camera’s frame.

Or maybe that’s just me and the couple glasses of wine I drank this evening. At any rate, here’s selections from the book:

More homoerotic snuggling...

...And a cute couple!

Blank gravestone, big shadow, damn weird.

Mew.

Huh... I'm told that I have cousins in Prince Albert... I wonder if this is one of them.

Look at this shadow... It's like evil Nanny Poppins! I also love how awkward this young woman looks: Totally adorable.

For more about the gallery exhibition of these pics, click here.

I’ve got a couple other books I want to send to my mom as well, and I’m going to get her a copy of Adele’s new album, 21. I rarely share music with her, but I know she likes strong female vocalists. Besides that, I’m rather taken by this song, and I think she will be too:

Bittersweet, indeed.

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2 responses to “A book of oddities.

  1. That is quite a song and singer. That book very interesting, mom will love it. A picture I took years ago with my Cannon 35mm(I loved that camera , but, it died) was of my godson, Jerome. He was just a little fart,at the time barely walking,and we had gone apple picking in Rougemont. He is smilling eating an apple sitting on the ground with the sun in his eyes, he is gorgeous. I think of it as a picture of the two of us because there is a big old shadow and it’s me, I’m looking at and out for him. Would you believe some people said I should throw it out because it’s ruined, it’s actually perfect, those people? not so sure.

  2. Awwww, that sound lovely! I just found a massive box of my old photos yesterday, and so many of them have similar “errors” but I’m so glad I’ve kept them.

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