Now comes Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry. It’s designed like an auction catalog. Newsweek says, “Plot developments are suggested by items' proximity to one another: Lot 1306, for example, a white-noise machine with "irreparable damage to top and sides, as if struck by a hammer," comes after Lot 1305, a note from Lenore informing Hal she might be pregnant. It's followed by Lot 1307, an Hermès watch and note from Hal reading "I did not handle that at all well." In a traditional novel, the writer would either have to spell out this dreary sequence or resort to some sort of coy evasion. Shapton's solution is not only more engaging, it is more eloquent in its ambiguity. "Important Artifacts" is the rare high-concept book that rises above gimmickry and succeeds, not just as a novel, but as a work of art.” [Full disclosure: that last phrase is going to look nice on the back of the reprint!]
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