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Guestbook: Ghost Stories


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A modern take on the ancient art of the ghost story by artist and storyteller Leanne Shapton.

About the Author

Leanne Shapton is an artist, illustrator, and writer who was born in Toronto and lives in New York. She has contributed to The New York Times, Harper's, The New Yorker, Jane, Seventeen, Saturday Night, and Maclean's, among other publications. She is one of the founders of J&L Books, a non-profit publishing company specializing in new art and writing. She is the author of several books, including Women in Clothes (with Heidi Julavits) and Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry.


'Ghost' is a good word for all the nameless longing that doesn't get resolved in this lifetime. Shapton has created a mystical territory - a performance, an exhibition, a guestbook - in which I felt the ghost within myself; the thing that will outlive me. A fearless and exquisite book. -- Miranda July
Leanne Shapton has a way of making books entirely new, surreal, and uncanny, always experimenting with the ways image and text can be mixed to tell new stories, in new ways. Guestbook is a delicious haunting and leaves one with a chill of recognition for how we live as ghosts in this distant, distracted, and image-obsessed time. -- Sheila Heti
It looks like a book, about the strangeness and sadness of love, but is really a house, and the house is haunted, and is still haunting me. -- John Jeremiah Sullivan, writer for the New York Times and editor for Harper's Magazine and the Paris Review
Guestbook discretely ushers us into the realms of the profound and the other worldly via the profane, the staged and the everyday. A rare and thrilling synthesis of literary sensibility and the artist's eye. The kind of picture book every grown up dreams of reading. -- Adam O'Riordan, author of 'In the Flesh' and 'The Burning Ground'
Through her experimental prose, Leanne Shapton has created a unique meditation on spectrality. Both a selection of mystical ghost stories and a tracing of ephemera and archival imagery, Guestbook identifies the uncanny nature of everyday life. Shapton glides seamlessly through each of the many vignettes that make up this haunting work which is part poem, part novel, part artwork, and everything in between. -- Hans Ulrich Obrist
In this astounding book, full of exquisitely disquieting narrative gestures and found ghosts, Leanne Shapton proves herself a master scrap-booker of the unconscious, a brilliant bricolage comic, and a fierce and subtle artistic provocateur. Enter these worlds at your peril, and to your guaranteed delight. -- Sam Lipsyte, author of 'Hark' and 'The Ask'
Hard to describe and impossible to forget, Guestbook is genuinely haunting and wholly original: a book to be experienced more than read. -- Lottie Moggach, author of 'Kiss Me First'
Shapton inventively explores the space between presence and absence, craftily blending images and text to articulate what cannot be explained, only sensed, making for a uniquely haunting and uncanny work. * Publishers Weekly *
In this perfectly uncanny collection of stories, Leanne Shapton explores the many things that follow and haunt us as we go about our lives, unsettling us in sometimes terrifying and sometimes exhilarating ways. Shapton's words are interwoven with images of art and artifacts, adding to the surreal aura of each of the stories, reminding us of the always pulsing energy that imbues nearly everything around us, always, whether we feel it right away or not. * Nylon, '50 Books You'll Want To Read In 2019' *
It's fascinating to see what happens when we try to tell stories we don't quite have words for. That's why Leanne Shapton's Guestbook-comprised of vignettes, photographs, and original paintings-is the perfect medium (get it?) for these ghost stories. * LitHub, 'Most Anticipated Books of 2019' *
Guestbook reveals Shapton as a ventriloquist, a diviner, a medium, a force, a witness, a goof, and above all, a gift. One of the smartest, most moving, most unexpected books I have read in a very long time. -- Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
Leanne Shapton's "Guestbook" lifts the veil on what is unknowable, but deeply felt in periphery. Buy this book! -- Richard McGuire, graphic novelist and illustrator for the New York Times and the New Yorker
A book like no other: Shapton can lift up the most everyday things - family photographs, ordinary rooms, vintage dresses, Christmas wrapping-paper - and give the reader a glimpse of the teeming ghostworld beneath. -- Joanne Limburg
I can't wait to see how form and function unite here. * TOR.com, 'The Books We're Looking Forward to in 2019' *
Guestbook is a profoundly sympathetic work, and one filled with yearning. That yearning, like a ghost, lingers long after the stories are done. -- NPR * Lily Meyer *
The short story is an arena - or a literary gym - where writers can flex muscles that might seem out of place in a novel. Leanne Shapton has tremendous form in both genres, in fact, but her collection Guestbook pushes the envelope in the most beguiling, clever and provocative ways. Full of images, photos, wrapping paper, competing texts, and meta-meta-fictional fun and games, it's a mind-bending celebration of the form's potential. -- William Boyd * New Statesman Books of the Year *
Sharp prose and visual artwork combine in these seductive modern ghost stories...this book is an artefact in itself - a tactile, mysterious and seductive one. Read it once and you'll be very likely to find yourself eyeing it every now and again, wondering whether it's exactly where you left it, and whether you could possibly have turned down the corner of this page or that -- Hephzibah Anderson * Guardian *
Guestbook is a catalogue of what haunts us and, more often than not, as with Important Artifacts, it is the little things. -- Times Literary Supplement

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