Emoji summary: 👥👅🌞
i guess only a small group will have read the subject of this review, the book Vitrinerie by Madeleine Stack, but that means its unlikely anyone will have written about it so i really rly want to. (tho to write about writing feels funny 2 me, like defining something without using the word you are looking to define/ or forgetting one night how to get comfy in your own bed. the dead end u taste trying to discuss a relationship problem with a satellite friend instead of the actual person who fucks you up. You have to go back to the start):
I’ve met the writer three times i think, first n second time in exhibitions and more recently bc we were going to be on the same panel but she had to pull out because she wasn’t gonna be in the city anymore
between times 2 and 3, i saw Stack’s installation in the MA Fine Art degree show at Goldsmiths this summer. I had shown it on our instagram story - a slippy arrangement of fake ice bricks, sea bits, a little bug, a book, and lots of copper pipe that could b dangerously fashionable art rn but didnt come off braggy or loud. she replied to the story asking if we wanted a copy of the book and yes pls i got one sent to my house. (that feels really smooth. the world needs a better word than slick). I didnt read it for a while, it waited next to my pillow where i have a water bottle and my antidepressants and a light that changes colours through the night. I eventually started it on a late train from Birmingham to Liverpool after my phone had ran out and i wanted help/distraction. my stomach was a knot of general anxiety so i couldn’t finish the mochi I’d bought for the trip and i felt bad for spending empty money and then also guilty for not having eaten enough. ffs
(I’ve been thinking in circles, bear with me).
My new year’s resolution was to read 1 book a month and I’m glad, it’s been healthy. I have been searching for this particular type of aesthetic experience in my reading, v m i ll e nial smooth. a rhythm that feels like being on twitter, with words I kno and say. I don’t mean millennial in a cringey way i just mean it 2 capture a formal zeitgeist; something that breathes like Stanya Kahn’s film Stand in the Stream, talks like Tao Lin (but is flatly unproblematic), along the lines of Courtney Barnett but with less irony. I want a book that can tip toe and sleep in and get hot on weekday afternoons thinking about the Big Things i.e. sex and philosophy;; and Vitrinerie ticks these soul boxes.
for the first 30 pages or so I don’t think the main gal's name is mentioned, it is vague and she is just she. I was worried about how this felt noncommittal and a bit too arty. it reminded me of how someone told me there was no real description of Bella in Twilight so that the reader could insert themselves into the narrative (do u die at this critical reference because I do). but past what feels to me a bit of a false start, we have Anna, and we follow her through broken paragraphs as she patters around London, the internet, and America/ falling between people, beds, loose vignettes. it is so visual. the writing is a good marathon. And you know when the writing itself is so good u want to be friends with the author? the tone is casual but practiced, poetic, and without cliche.
Anna’s stories pull towards Stack’s RL friends, and i liked 2 guess who was who. cause the london art scene isn’t actually that big and sometimes I was able to recognise a mutual in the writing - btw that didn’t feel gossipy, it was grounding and kind, a Nice Instagram Explore (softly cool, innate, generous in that 2017 shared gloom way. otherwise I’d die). The names of those RL friends are fictionalised - for example, one person’s name is shortened, another person is referred to as the bird. visual but so social too. a mapped out narrative of lives, of being Mutual.
it has made me want to make an effort to see friends more, so poetic not-unrelated tangent: a couple of weeks ago I had a free day in London and went around exhibitions with friends. fairly boring art tbh n nothing i have the urge to write about but on the way to the tube before we said goodbye my friend put 20p into a toy machine and gotta marbled green and white bouncy ball. we bounced it along the street as we made our way but ended up cutting into Mile End Park to play properly bc it was so satisfying to catch it small in ur palm. that half hour was more loving + careful than the art we’d made pilgrimages to; and it felt closer to the lyf i want to live than the one i’ve been getting sick within; closer to Anna’s movement through Vitrinerie where her hands are always touching other people’s n her day is undecided and it’s fine. this book did me good, it is v precious, and i’m glad it came into my life.