Title: Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past
Author: Ransom Riggs
Source: Library (Paperback)
With the candid quirkiness of Awkward Family Photos and the confessional intimacy of PostSecret, Ransom Riggs’s Talking Pictures is a haunting collection of antique found photographs–with evocative inscriptions that bring these lost personal moments to life–from the author of the New York Times bestselling illustrated novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Each image in Talking Pictures reveals a singular, frozen moment in a person’s life, be it joyful, quiet, or steeped in sorrow. Yet the book’s unique depth comes from the writing accompanying each photo: as with the caption revealing how one seemingly random snapshot of a dancing couple captured the first dance of their 40-year marriage, each successive inscription shines like a flashbulb illuminating a photograph’s particular context and lighting up our connection to the past.
(This review was originally posted on my blog Winter Distractions on February 27, 2013)
When I pick up a book that is made primarily of pictures, I’m not really sure what to think. I mean, it’s pictures — how much of an impact can it make? A LOT.
You know in movies, when you see people going to flea markets and they buy photographs? Apparently, that’s a thing. I had no idea! I don’t know how people could make anything off of old photos, but that’s just what Ransom Riggs does. In this book, he’s assembled groups of photos, old photographs, just like the title says, rescued from the past. But it’s just just any photos, rather photos with messages on them. Photos that look innocent on the front, but when you turn them over have a powerful message or note on the back. It could be funny, it could be hard to digest — no matter how you interpret these words, think about it; these are words written by someone. It’s something that survived throughout history.
This book was pretty amazing from start to finish. It was divided up into sections, some of them focusing on funny events, or tragedy, and even one chapter devoted solely to one person. Whereas a fictional book has people made up in it, maybe based on certain aspects of a certain real-life person, this book features ACTUAL people, with ACTUAL things they wrote. At some points I laughed out loud, and at other points I felt like crying. It was just so powerful a read.
Keep in mind, this is nothing like Ransom’s other book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but it’s different in a good way. This is a book that should be looked through and read, and then read again. I finished it feeling like a weight had been placed and then lifted from my shoulders. I finished it wanting to immediately go back and flip through it again, trying to find the deeper meaning behind the pictures.
Even if you’re not one for looking through photographs, I guarantee there’s something for everyone in this one. I highly recommend it.