Maira Kalman’s vision of the world is by turns, quirky, wonderful, intriguing and absurd. Her 2007 book, The Principles of Uncertainty is her diary of one year in her life. It covers the absurdity of life– p. 122 reads, “Which leads me to my candy collection. The JEWEL of the collection is the CRATCH bar, purchased in Cuba. It sounds like a disease more than a candy trat, and I like to imagine the naming session.”
There are several pages of her collections–egg slicers, suitcases, sponges. She draws them all. The book is really an art journal-each page a full color illustration of some aspect of the day. Some of the pages relate to each other, others do not. Kalman is interested in whether or not people know who they are, an always interesting question.
The simplicity of this post and the depth of what it did and didn’t say, is fascinating.
Go to Google Images and type in her name, you will find dozens of Kalman’s illustrations. The book is both an inspiration and a journal prompt all its own. It’s an autobiography and a diary. Kalman may be the best emotional multi-tasker I know. And a mental magpie, collecting ideas and emotions at random.
What I love most about the book is that she was not afraid to write and illustrate an odd, fascinating, philosophical, funny book that doesn’t fit into a common genre, and, I imagine, defended it to an editor or agent. Still, quirky and odd, the book is 63,500 on the amazon.com list. (The hour I checked.) Compared say, to Kitty Kelly’s book on Oprah, which is 96,100 and two years younger. Or Stephen King’s Carrie, which is ranked at 61,380, and a perennial best-seller.
Why, that gives hope to all of us journalers of details.
—Quinn McDonald loves to take a peek at other people’s lives.
5 thoughts on “Life in Small Details”
I looked the book up on Amazon and added it to my wish list. It’s number 124 on it. I seriously need to buy more book shelves. And get a bigger house.
I will never give up paper books. My son will just have to deal with it when I’m no longer here.
Neither will I. Sometime in the future people will realise the supremacy of paper books over the feeble digital files of texts.
And I’m leading the way with my huge collection!
Along with ‘And the Pursuit of Happiness’, one of my all time favourite books. Love the woman, love her wry wit and wisdom.