So, hands up everyone who read and loved Ransom Riggs’ odd, clever novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Quirk Books) – I know, wasn’t it interesting? in a strange, more than a little creepy way? I ended up not really liking the story but was intrigued enough to finish and I just loved the photos of real, anonymous people. The author found them (you know, in those dusty boxes of old/abandoned/stolen/lost photos in junkeries and op shops) and used them to add real spice and depth to the tale of Miss Peregrine and the peculiar children.
I have just finished one of Riggs’ other books – and I loved it. It is very simple but oh so clever, funny and poignant all at once. Talking Pictures: Images & Messages Rescued from the Past (Igniter) is a selection of images from Riggs’ collection organised into loosely themed sections. I particularly enjoyed his story about why he started collecting such images.
Riggs only collects photos with writing on them, sometimes it is just names and dates, sometimes a witty or snappy comment (whether by the subject, the photographer or some other is all part of the mystery) and occasionally there is one that takes your breath away: “…our daughter…one month before she passed away…” and “…died of malnutrition. No $s for food.”
The photos sent home from wars are fascinating, as are the ones that people hate themselves in, and the collection of photos of a young girl called Janet Lee taken from 1955 to 1959 are particularly memorable. I also really liked the conservative older couple photographed the week after their wedding, who would have guessed that under all that flannel and cotton they have “Two hearts that beat as one.”
That is one of the best things – you get these quick fleeting very real impressions of people who look and dress so differently but have so many of the concerns we all have and you wonder, as Riggs does, why have their photos been let go by those who knew and loved or hated them…Here is Ransom Riggs talking about the book – don’t know about you but I don’t think I’m going to be ignoring those dusty boxes of photos again…