A great book will immerse you in its world -- you’ll feel like the characters are your dear friends, like the setting is a place you know. Finishing it will feel like a sad goodbye; starting a new book is a rehoming of sorts. Ideally, the words of a novel are enough to accomplish this, but a new Instagram feed hopes to take the world-building of fiction a step further.
The account is dedicated to Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, a book that came out earlier this year, following the lives of four friends. Jude -- the group’s glue -- has endured unspeakable traumas, and has spent his adult life trying to move past them. Yanagihara brings their relationships to life with heartbreaking lucidity. By photographing literal manifestations of scenes and metaphors, alittlelifebook makes reading a community act.
"He felt he had awakened Harold's curiosity, which he imagined as a perked, bright-eyed dog," one caption reads. "A terrier, something relentless and keen -- and wasn't sure that was such a good thing." The image is of a sad-eyed black lab, looking expectantly upward. Another, of a splattered canvas, reads, "Cleaning was boring; it was particularly boring while sober."
Whether or not the project captures the Yanagihara’s words, it's a fun supplemental scrolling experience.
"And sometimes it was neither day nor night but somewhere in between, and there would be something strange and dusty about the light that made him imagine for a moment that there might after all be such a thing as heaven, and that he might after all have made it there."--page 100. Photograph by Christaan Felber, @christaanfelber #alittlelifebook
"After they crossed into Nebraska, Brother Luke stopped at the edge of a wheat field and beckoned him out of the car. It was still dark, but he could hear the birds stirring, hear them talk back to a sun they couldn't yet see."--page 393. Photograph by Kate Cunningham, @kate_cunningham_ #alittlelifebook
"If he appeared one day magically whole, with a stride as easy as Willem's and JB's lack of self-consciousness...or with Malcolm's long arms, the skin on their insides as smooth as frosting, what would he be to Andy? What would he be to any of them?"--page 143. Photograph by Ryan Pfluger, @ryanpfluger #alittlelifebook
Version 2: "He had visions of it--his back made as smooth as the floors themselves, the thick, unbudgeable worm trail of scars vaporized within seconds, and with it, all evidence of his time in the home and in Philadelphia, the documentation of those years erased from his body." --page 252. Photograph by Ryan Pfluger, @ryanpfluger #alittlelifebook
"They had a variation on this conversation every year, with Harold proposing various animals and proteins--steamed black-footed Chinese chicken, filet mignon, tofu with wood ear fungus, smoked whitefish salad on homemade rye--as turkey improvements." --page 177. Photograph by Eric Helgas, @erichelgas #alittlelifebook For the story behind how Eric and photo editor @leonorjr sourced this chicken, go to alittlelifebook.tumblr.com or Facebook.com/alittlelifebook
"So he had, asking CM and Janusz for their advice, and had made cookies shaped like paisleys, like mace balls, like cucumbers, using different-colored frosting to draw their cytoplasms and plasma membranes and ribosomes and fashioning flagella from strands of licorice." --page 118. Photograph by Jenny Westerhoff, @jmwesterhoff; cookies created by Bianca Jackson, @bianca.bakes #alittlelifebook
"It is not the childhood loneliness of not having parents; or of lying awake in a motel room with Brother Luke, trying not to move, not to rouse him, while the moon threw hard white stripes of light across the bed..." --page 302. Photograph by Naomi Shon, @naomishon #alittlelifebook Also: today is publication day! My forever gratitude to the booksellers, early readers, and photographers for this project for taking this book to your hearts.
"He had visions of it--his back made as smooth as the floors themselves, the thick, unbudgeable worm trail of scars vaporized in seconds, and with it, all evidence of his time in the home and in Philadelphia, the documentation of those years erased from his body." -- page 252. Photograph by Ryan Pfluger, @ryanpfluger #alittlelifebook