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Guestbook Reviews

Guestbook by Leanne Shapton


Ghost Stories

Leanne Shapton

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Particular Books
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 26 Mar 2019
ISBN: 9781846144936

Guestbook explores the glimmering, unsettling things that haunt us in the midst of life, combining stories, vignettes and an evocative curiosity cabinet of artifacts and images - found photographs, original paintings, Instagram-style portraits - to transform the traditional ghost story into something else entirely.

4 stars out of 5
2 Feb 2020

"As desire turns to aversion, details that at first seemed inconsequential take on a menacing significance"

Guestbook is divided into 33 numbered chapters combining fragments of text and found images. Nominally a collection of ghost stories, it’s a messier affair than Shapton’s other books: ‘ghosts’ can cover almost anything. The stories are vivid and impressionistic, and seem to have been built around whatever caught Shapton’s eye: old Christmas wrapping paper; hand-tinted photographs of roses and sunsets; watercolour reproductions of the final sequence from Visconti’s Death in Venice; black and white snapshots of blurred figures and leafless trees; a sculpture, in soft white stone, of a woman turned away, as if protecting a secret.


5 stars out of 5
Hephzibah Anderson
18 Mar 2019

"this book is an artefact in itself – a tactile, mysterious and seductive one"

In the lexicon of reviewer-speak, entries don’t come more hackneyed than “haunting”. The urge to reach for it should be a critic’s cue to do more thinking, and yet in the case of Leanne Shapton’s new volume, Guestbook, this diaphanous adjective feels oddly precise. It’s a book that is, after all, subtitled Ghost Stories; more particularly, its pages summon up a persistently uncanny atmosphere that is impossible to pin down, remaining purposefully, lingeringly opaque... Of course, 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