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The Address Book by Sophie Calle

Like you, I am a busy person, so I am always interested in ‘little’ books…and this is one! Measuring less than 5.5″ x 7.5″ and weighing in at 9 oz., the 104 page The Address Book tells an interesting story. In 1983, journalist Sophie Calle found a personal address book lost on a Paris Street. She decided to contact the addressees and learn a little bit from each about the owner. Her written accounts of these encounters with friends, family and colleagues—juxtaposed with Calle’s photographs—originally appeared as serial in the newspaper Libération over the course of one month in 1983. When Pierre D. learned about the work and its appearance in the newspaper, he threatened to sue (and demanded that Libération publish nude photographs of Calle as a reciprocal invasion of privacy). Calle agreed not to republish the work until after his death. In the almost thirty years since its original publication in France, The Address Book has never been published in full again, only described—in Double Game, Calle’s monograph which converses with Paul Auster’s novel Leviathan, and again in the novel itself as a work thought up (but not executed) by the fictional character Maria whom Auster based on Calle.  I found The Address Book‘s narrative compelling as it built up a second-hand picture of a complex personality. Calle’s photographs did not resonate with me however. So what do I think? Reading this book poses an important question about what is private. It’s interesting to consider in today’s context where ‘address books’ are on-line and easily hijacked. What story would your confidants tell about you?

Amy P.

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