Sarah Crichton Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009
Auction catalogs can tell you a lot about a person — their passions and vanities, peccadilloes and aesthetics; their flush years and lean. In Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry, the 325 lots up for auction are what remain from the relationship between Lenore and Harold. Through photographs of the couple's personal effects — the usual auction items (jewelry, fine art, and rare furniture) and the seemingly worthless (pajamas, Post-it notes, worn paperbacks) — the story of a failed love affair emerges. From first meeting to final separation, the progress and rituals of intimacy are revealed through the couple's accumulated relics and memorabilia. And a love story, in all its tenderness and struggle, emerges from the evidence that has been left behind.
"Leanne Shapton has accomplished a small victory in the age-old artistic struggle to do something unprecedented. Her intriguing new novel — if you can call it that — charts the rise and fall of a relationship, not through wordy descriptions or even graphic-novel drawings, but rather via a convincingly realistic auction catalog. The reader, cast in the unfamiliar role of consumer/detective, is put to gathering information about a failed romance between the two New York protagonists, with nothing to go on but photos and brief descriptions of their belongings." - Time Out New York
"A captivating and completely sui generis creation" - The New York Times
"[Shapton has] simultaneously invented a form — a sort of fiction-as-still-life — and probably broken the mold on it." - Time Out Chicago
"And so let's just get it out of the way here and now, before things get complicated by other releases: the book of the year for 2009 is Leanne Shapton's Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry. Yes, yes, I know: there are great books coming this year... but please believe me — no other book will come close to this one. Not even remotely close." - Corduroy Books