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December 3rd, 2012


(Review) The Address Book

The Believer Logger


Originally published October 23, 2012


One of the things that keep a person reading a book is “suspense”—you don’t know what’s going to happen next and you want to know. Or there’s a general feeling of tension that mysteriously holds you. I hate this in a book. It feels like eating salty chips. No, you can’t eat just one. You eat more and more without wanting to. But so what? When I turn the pages of a book that quickly, it’s often because what I’m reading feels as bad for me as a chip. I don’t admire the author’s technique. I resent the suspense for keeping me there, when I would rather be somewhere else (or, if I love the book, for not letting me linger on what I’m loving; for forcing me to rush).

In Sophie Calle’s The Address Book, created in the 1980s in France and now being released as a book in English for the first time, one turns the pages that fast. You gobble it up like a bag of chips, but instead of it being bad for you, it’s just bad. I don’t mean that as a criticism. I mean, it’s wicked. It’s wonderful, brilliant, breathtaking—but bad . . .

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