Love for Sale: Leanne Shapton Catalogs a Relationship That Was

Postcards. Paperbacks. Mix CDs. A heart-shaped ice cube mold. Dried and pressed four-leaf clovers. Two pairs of lightly worn snowshoes. Through photographs and terse descriptions of these items and hundreds like them Leanne Shapton tells the story of a relationship that is no more. Her delightful new book, published by Sarah Crichton/FSG, is designed as an auction catalog, organizing in brisk chronological order the Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry.

An illustrator, writer, publisher, and the art director of The New York Times op-ed page, Shapton allows the stuff accumulated and exchanged by the erstwhile couple to speak for itself, encouraging readers to imagine subplots. A leather backgammon set (lot 1246) has a “slightly charred” corner (was Harold smoking again?) while a white noise machine (lot 1306) is described as having sustained “irreparable damage to top and sides, as if struck by a hammer.” Maira Kalman, global authority on heartbreaking whimsy, calls the book “completely sensational,” adding “I am nuts about it. This is the stuff of life, literally. Oh, love. Oh, despair. Oh, stolen salt shakers.” Preview a couple of sample pages after the jump.