Across the Page: 2008 Holiday Gift Guide


Learning To Love You More, Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July
(Prestel USA)

Learning To Love You
is the book version of artist Harrell Fletcher and bisexual writer and
artist Miranda July’s website, which was created almost seven years ago.

The website posts “assignments” for readers and then
features the work online.The
assignments are all numbered and range from “Make an encouraging banner” to
“Give advice to yourself in the past.” The project’s title comes from artist Emma Hedditch for "Assignment 35:
Ask your family to describe what you do."

Miranda July photo credit: Harrell Fletcher

In the introduction, July and Fletcher write that even
though they are artists trying to discover new ideas daily, “our most joyful
and even profound experiences often come when we are following other people’s

The work featured here comes from all over the world, from New York City to Qatar, and captures the art of
everyday life. The website and book include pictures and prose, sometimes both.

The responses are as varied as the assignments, ranging from
interviews with people who have been to war to a letter a woman writes to her
unborn children. Several of the pieces feature contributions from gay and
lesbian artists.

For "Assignment 55: Photograph a significant outfit," a man
San Francisco took a picture of the outfit
he wore the day he came out at his office job in Kansas.

In "Assignment 42: List five events from 1984," Justine
Jimenez writes about falling in love with a girl named Tiffany. The list itself documents a first crush,
including Justine’s fear of coming out in high school and ending with, “I
burned parts of my journal and the love letters I got from Tiffany Diggs and
flushed the burned pieces down the toilet.”

The book also includes the essay “A Modest Collective: Many
People Doing Simple Things Well,” by Professor Julia Bryan-Wilson, which
provides an interesting history of “assignment art,” and places it in the
context of other movements, including feminist art.

Learning To Love You
is more than just a cool coffee-table book. It’s an unusual and thought provoking gift as well as a cool coffee-table book.

Other Book Ideas:

Emma Donoghue’s new release, The Sealed Letter (Harcourt)

Newly appointed Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan’s The Niagara River (Grove Press)

Galaxy Craze’s Tiger,
the follow-up to By the ShoreBuy
them both! (Black Cat)

Awkward and Definition
and Potential by Ariel Schrag (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster)

Pages: 1 2

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